10 years of World Rhinoceros Day | New

2011 looks like a different world than we are today, but what has the last 10 years done for the rhinos? Today the 10e anniversary of World Rhino Day, we look back on the ups and downs of the past decade and reflect on what will follow.

The poaching crisis

It won’t surprise you that poaching has been the biggest challenge to overcome over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, during this period, nearly 9,500 African rhinos lost their lives to poaching. It has been a constant threat to rhino conservation efforts over the past decade. And while fewer rhinos are poached today than the horrific record of 2015, when 1,349 African rhinos were killed in a single year, the latest figures show that the number of rhinos poached in 2020 was similar to 2011.

This not only means that rhinos have been under constant threat since the poaching crisis began in 2008, but also that rangers are working around the clock, in extremely dangerous situations, to try to protect the rhinos. These brave men and women deserve so much support. Without them, the number of poached rhinos would be much, much higher.

Extinction is happening before our eyes

In 2011, the western black rhino was declared extinct. One of four black rhino subspecies, the western black rhino roamed Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, and South Sudan, making it the rhino subspecies of Northernmost Africa. Intensive poaching in the 1970s and 1980s caused numbers to plummet, and by 2003 only a handful of rhinos remained. Fortunately, the other three black rhino subspecies continue to live today, although the species remains at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

One of the biggest rhino stories of the past 10 years has been the death of Sudan, the world’s last known male northern white rhino, in March 2018. Today, to our knowledge, only two rhinos remain. whites from the North: Najin and Fatu, respectively the daughter and the granddaughter of Sudan. The reality that there is no longer a natural future for this subspecies of white rhino has put the reality and urgency of extinction at the forefront of the minds of many. Now, the northern white rhino’s last hope lies in science.

Exciting new arrivals

Today there are two species of rhino with less than 80 animals each. For the Java and Sumatran rhinos, it is essential to protect each animal and encourage them to reproduce.

In 2012, incredible news arrived: for the first time, a Sumatran rhino was born in captivity in Indonesia, at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS). The calf, named Andatu (which means “gift from God”), has become a beacon of hope for the Sumatran rhinos. This is not the only good news: a second rhino, named Delilah, was born at SRS in 2016!

Of course, the species needs a lot more new rhinos to increase its population to safe numbers, let alone thrive. In 2018, we joined a revolutionary alliance to boost Sumatran rhino conservation. By continuing breeding efforts and saving the last remaining wild rhinos in Sumatra, we are determined to secure a future for this unique species.

The last decade has also seen significant increases for Java rhinos. In 2014, camera trap images showed that 58 rhinos lived in Ujung Kulon National Park (the last remaining Java rhino habitat), an increase from 44 in the previous tally. Although the species has continued to grow, finding healthier and safer environments for rhinos is imperative. With every Java rhino living in one place, an epidemic or natural disaster could be devastating.

In the meantime, it is clear that the current population remains healthy: four new calves have been spotted in the past 12 months.

The impact of the pandemic

We cannot summarize the last 10 years of rhino conservation without mentioning Covid-19 and the surprising impacts it has had across the world. The pandemic has had both positive and negative consequences, ranging from fewer rhinos poached due to lockdowns to substantial loss of income without international tourism, putting conservatories, the people who work there and the rhinos who live there, to a huge risk. The effect of Covid-19 on the consumption of wildlife products is not yet known.

The pandemic has amplified the importance of finding resilient and sustainable funding for conservation, without which it will be nearly impossible to secure a future for rhinos.

A decade in review

It’s not easy to sum up the last 10 years, especially when there have been so many important stories during that time. It certainly has not been easy. Faced with all the problems that there have been (poaching, loss of habitat, Covid-19), the global rhino population has at least been able to maintain itself. Looking back, that’s a huge achievement in itself.

Looking at where we are in 2021 and over the next decade, perhaps the biggest change is that the issues that lurked in the background in 2011 have now come to the fore. The challenges of the past 10 years now exist in an even more complex and unpredictable world of climate change, global biodiversity loss and new epidemics.

If there’s one thing we can say about the next 10 years, it’s that we need to anticipate all eventualities, seize opportunities when we can, and expect the unexpected. Amid all this complexity, we must ensure safe, healthy and interconnected spaces for rhinos, not only to achieve our vision for the development of the five rhino species, but also to ensure a healthy, diverse and resilient world for our own good. -to be.

Fortunately, rhinos are surrounded by a wonderful and passionate global community who want to see them thrive for decades to come – including you! Thank you.

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