Happy World Rhino Day! (sort of.)

This past Saturday was a very important day. 

My birthday. 

Just kidding. Sort of. I mean, it really was my birthday. But more importantly, September 22 was World Rhino Day! (I’m a little late to the celebration, I did have my own candles to blow out after all!). 

World Rhino Day is all about the important mission of saving and conserving rhinos. It’s a message we’ve all grown up with. Save the rhinos! Right? 

Below is a snapshot of my sister, Nancy, proudly wearing her “Save the Rhinos” shirt in 1993. 

Little did that four year old Nancy know that twenty years later that message would mean more than ever. 

Rhinos are in more trouble now than they have ever been. Why? Well, the value of a rhinos horn per ounce is now more than gold and more than cocaine. An ever expanding Asian middle class has created a market for the crushed horns amongst those who believe that rhino horns are either a powerful medicine or party drug. 

Now might be a good time to mention that rhino horns are made out of keratin. Same stuff as your hair. Same stuff as your fingernails. Rhino horns are no more going to cure your ailments than biting your nails. Yet rhinos are dying everyday for it. 

Here are the sad facts. Below are the number of rhinos poached in South Africa in 2007-2012:

2007: 13

2008: 83

2009: 122

2010: 333

2011: 448

2012: 532…so far

Do you see the alarming trend?! This is a catastrophic problem. A future without rhinos is a bleak one, indeed. Something must be done and fast. 

There are five rhinos species, at this time–White rhinoceros, Black rhinoceros, Indian rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros and Javan rhinoceros. 

Three of these species are critically endangered, particularly the Sumatran rhino of which there are less than 200 surviving in Southeast Asia. 

But did you know that on June 23, 2012 a baby Sumatran rhino named Andatu was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary? Andatu was the first Sumatran rhino ever born in captivity in Indonesia and only the fifth born worldwide. 

Andatu is just a little, furry guy, but his birth means hope. 

So how can you help to save the rhinos? Support organizations like the International Rhino Foundation that fund anti-poaching patrols, which offer serious protection to our world’s rhino species. Or come to the Saint Louis Zoo  and visit our rhinos, Ajabu, Kati Rain and calf, Ruka to learn more about these amazing animals.  

It is time for everyone to take action to save the rhinos! It may take a little more than just wearing a t-shirt, but I believe we can do it.  

After all, that is what World Rhino Day is all about! 

And I am certainly game to share my birthday with a message like that.