World Rhino Day 2016 - Just 29,000 Remaining!

World Rhino Day 2016 - Just 29,000 Remaining!

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 22nd Sep 2016

World Rhino Day takes place on 22 September each year and it celebrates the rhino, one of the most powerful and respected animals in the world. The day also plays a crucial role in highlighting the threats that rhinos face, and the efforts being taken to protect and conserve it. Crucially, it aims to counter and debunk the myths that some people around the world believe about the rhino horn. This includes the mistaken belief that it can cure illness.

Rhino and baby

There are five species of rhinos in the world:

  • Black rhino - Africa
  • White rhino - Africa
  • Greater one-horned rhino - Asia
  • Sumatran rhino - Asia
  • Javan rhino – Asia

The Rhino Today

Today there are just 29,000 rhinos left in the world with almost all of them living in natural parks or reserves. This figure is down on what it was just 20 years ago.

The largest population is that of the white rhino, where there is thought to be around 20,000 alive today. It is a species that almost became extinct, however. At the start of the 20th century there was thought to be just 50 left in the world. Persistent efforts have brought the population to its current level, which is an impressive achievement given the low base that conservationists started with.

Black rhinos are another conservation success story. Their numbers dropped to just 2,300 in the early 1990s after 96 percent of the worldwide population was wiped out in just 20 years. Since then conservation efforts have seen that number double to around 5,500.

In Asia, the greater one-horned rhino is the most populous, with around 3,500 thought to be in existence. The situation is bleaker for the other two species, though. Fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos exist and there are only 60 Javan rhinos, all of which live in one population in Ujung Kulon National Park. It is located on the Indonesian island Java.

Wild Rhino

Threats Rhinos Face

The rhino numbers have decreased over the last 100-plus years for a number of reasons. The biggest threat facing them today, and in the past, is the illegal wildlife trade. Rhinos are under constant threat from poachers who help supply the illegal trade in rhino parts, with the rhino horn being particularly prized. The situation remains serious, despite valiant conservation efforts and the creation of national parks and reserves where rhinos are supposed to be able to live safely. In 2014, for example, over 1,200 rhinos were killed for their horns.

Huge numbers of horns are sold illegally in Vietnam as well as other countries in Asia and Africa. They are used to supposedly treat everything from cancer to a hangover.

Other threats to the rhino include habitat loss, disease and natural disaster. The Javan rhino is also struggling with genetic diversity because of its tiny population.

What Can Be Done

Continuing actions must be taken to conserve the rhino including:

  • Stopping the illegal trade in rhino parts
  • Debunking myths about the medicinal value of rhino horns
  • Protecting natural habitat
  • Expanding natural parks and reserves where rhinos can live safely

World Rhino Day gives publicity to these issues, so plays a significant role in helping to solve some of these issues, and by helping us to spread the word you can too!


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