At the root of the crisis is the myth that horn is a valuable commodity. World Rhino Day highlights efforts to debunk the myths and eliminate the demand for rhino horn.
Last month, the 2018 State of the Rhino report was released. It shows that overall, two-thirds of the world’s five rhino species could be lost in our lifetime.
Highlights from the report:
Of the five species, the Sumatran rhino is the most in peril, with population numbers fewer than 80. Together with its Indonesian partner Yayasan Badak Indonesia (Yabi) IRF has developed the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, located in Way Kambas National Park on the island of Sumatra. The successful breeding programme there has led to plans to double the size of the sanctuary. Construction is now under way with the expanded breeding facility scheduled to open in Spring 2019.
In 2018, the death of the last male northern white rhino, a member of a functionally extinct subspecies of white rhino, garnered a lot of public attention.
This subspecies lived in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where wild populations were decimated by militant armies. By the time trackers determined they were extinct in the wild, only a handful of zoo animals remained and none was capable of breeding.
Today, only two non-breeding females are living out their days in a reserve in Kenya. Innovative, yet unproven advanced reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation, are being attempted.
Despite these statistics, rhino conservation has seen some successes. Ten years ago, roughly 20800 rhinos roamed Earth. Today, rhino numbers hover around 29500 - a 41% increase in a decade.
The government of South Africa and dedicated conservationists teamed up to bring the southern white rhino back from fewer than 100 individuals in the early 1900s to roughly 20000 today.
Thanks to strict protection by authorities in India and Nepal, the greater one-horned, or Indian, rhino has rebounded from fewer than 200 individuals to more than 3550 today.