White rhinos have been a topic of news within the animal industry for many years. Subjected to poaching for their horns, these majestic creatures must be protected at all costs. If saving the white rhino is something you feel passionate about, learn more about their importance, the reasons why they are hunted, how many white rhinos are left and how we can save them, below.
Why are white rhinos important?
A vital part of their ecosystem, both species of rhino have existed for millions of years. They’re known as ‘keystone species’ which means that they have an immense impact on the environment around them. For example, their grazing is hugely important for maintaining and shaping the African landscape as they consume significant amounts of vegetation. This, therefore, has a knock-on effect, benefitting a variety of other animals such as elephants and buffalos, and also supports a healthy balance within the ecosystem.
Why are white rhinos hunted?
So, why are white rhinos hunted? If they are such a vital element of the African ecosystem, why would people try to eradicate their existence? The driving factor is monetary gain. The poaching of white rhinos was uncontrolled for many years during the colonial era, which lead to their drastic decline. White rhino horns are viewed as a sign of wealth and so the upper-middle classes often seek them out to proudly display in their homes. What’s more, powdered horn is considered a traditional medicine within Asian culture, so this is another key reason for them being a target of poaching.
How many white rhinos are left?
Just over 150 years ago, there was over a million black and white rhinos roaming free in Africa’s savannahs.
So, how many white rhinos are left in the world now? It is estimated that there are between 17,000 and 18,000 white rhinos, with the majority living under protection. This is a huge leap, as the white rhino population was estimated as being as low as 50 in the early 1900s. Thankfully as a result of rigorous conservation to save the white rhino, predominantly in South Africa, white rhino numbers have increased – returning them from the brink of extinction.
Image Credit: Saving The Survivors
How can we save the white rhino?
So how can we go about saving the white rhino? There are a number of non-profit charities that are dedicated to protecting and saving the white rhino species that you can donate to or create a fundraiser for. For example, Saving the Survivors is a prime example, attending to any endangered animals that have been subjected to poaching injuries or traumatic incidents. Learn more about the founder, Dr Johan Marais, who also works as a veterinarian for the charity in our Saving the Survivors blog – written by Dr Marais himself.
Although white rhinos numbers have improved greatly, they are still victims of poaching at an alarming level to this day. Do your part in saving the white rhino and donate or raise awareness today.