Many believe that we are now facing the worst rhino poaching crisis for decades, with techniques and methods used to hunt the powerful mammals becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, anti poaching awareness is reaching a new height as today is World Rhino Day! Demonstrations, marches, petitions and even skydives are being carried out in South Africa today, campaigning for more effort to be put into protecting the beautiful beasts. Awareness is also being raised in schools, with local children learning about rhino conservation and making posters to celebrate the day. If you want to help there are many rhino petition sites online, or you could get up close and personal with the rhinos on some of Frontier's South Africa wildlife expeditions.
To celebrate the day we have put together 10 top facts about rhinos:
1. The 5 living species of rhinos, from largest to smallest are the Indian (Greater Horned) Rhino, White Rhino, Black Rhino, Jarvan Rhino and finally the Sumatran Rhino.
2. There is an extinct and hornless species of rhino called Paraceratherium which was the largest land mammal to ever walk the earth weighing about 20 tonnes and growing up to 5.5 meters at the shoulder, although with its head raised it would be much taller.
3. Rhinos can live solitary lives, although black and white rhinos are often found in groups of mothers and calves. Somewhat fittingly, a group of rhinos is called a ‘crash’.
4. Rhino gestation can last up to 16 months, with the young calf being cared for by its mother until it is old enough to live independently at 4 years old.
5. Both the White and Black rhino are actually grey in colour, so the way to tell the difference is too look at their mouths. The black rhino has a triangular shaped mouth adapted best for browsing shrubs and bushes. The white rhino has a far wider and square shaped mouth which allows it to easily graze from the ground.
6. All rhino species are herbivorous with their diets consisting of vegetation such as leaves, grass and buds.
7. Rhinos are notoriously grumpy and aggressive; however they have managed to strike up a symbiotic relationship with their good friend the ox pecker. The small birds ride on the rhinos back and keeping them clear of ticks as they browse on vegetation.
8. Rhinos have bad eye sight, which is why it is best advised not to get to close to them as they may begin charging. They do however have very good hearing and smell, so it would be hard to go unnoticed if you did try to creep up on one.
9. The rhino’s horn is unusual in the animal world as it has no bone core, but is made only of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and nails. Unfortunately it is the rhino’s horn which makes it so attractive to poachers.
10. Of the world’s five Rhino species, the Black, Javan and Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with the Indian rhino listed as vulnerable. The horns of the rhinos are turned into dagger handles and used for medicinal purposes, which are not supported by science.
World Rhino Day hopes to raise global awareness on the plight of the rhino and ensure their protection for the future. So spread the news and let your friends know just how amazing rhinos are!
By Lizy Tinsley