On September 22nd, the third annual World Rhino Day was celebrated, with over a dozen countries participating this year. World Rhino Day brought NGOs, zoos, rhino sanctuaries, and concerned citizens across the globe together to raise awareness and funds for the five species of rhinoceros — all of which are under threat from the illegal rhino horn trade.
World Rhino Day was initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010 and has since become a global phenomenon. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from World Rhino Day 2012:
All of the Sumatran rhinos enjoyed a special basket of treats, prepared by their keepers.
To mark World Rhino Day, Save the Rhino International in London held its very first wine tasting event! 60 people enjoyed a fascinating evening, with Neil from Linton Park Wines delivering an informative talk about the seven different wines he had brought for guests to taste.
At the event, the work of Save the Rhino was introduced and guests took part in a rhino myth-buster quiz to help raise awareness. The event was kindly hosted by Vivat Bacchus restaurant, London Bridge.
In Hanoi, Education for Nature-Vietnam joined CITES Vietnam, the US Embassy in Vietnam and other wildlife protection organizations, in a World Rhino Day ceremony. Hunting, illegal trade, and rhino horn consumption led to extinction of the Javan Rhino in Vietnam in 2010, and now Vietnam is one of the main markets contributing to the killing of rhinos elsewhere, especially in South Africa.
Within the framework of this event, ENV held a wildlife trade exhibit with information boards and banners. The general message of the exhibit was to stop consumption and trade of rhino horn, as well as other wildlife.
In Harare, Zimbabwe, citizens gathered for musical entertainment and a parade, where they marched from Town House to Africa Union Square. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment addressed the crowd, saying that 2012 was special in that it was dedicated to the Year of the Rhino and should inspire co-operation for rhino conservation amongst countries, governments, private sector and individuals.
As in previous years, South Africa went all out for World Rhino Day, with multiple events organized by concerned citizens, businesses, and conservation groups. Acting Head of Communications at South African National Parks (SANParks), Paul Daphne, said, “World Rhino Day is an opportunity to highlight the efforts being made to fight the scourge of rhino poaching around the world and to debunk the myths and reduce the demand for rhino horn.”
Skydive for Rhinos is an African Conservation Trust (ACT) initiative with the objective of raising R10 Million for on-the-ground, verifiable Rhino conservation and anti-poaching efforts in South Africa.
Another popular event in South Africa was the Rhino Run.
The Rhino Run was a huge success, with all 5 runs going off well around South Africa on Saturday. We had complete weather extremes, from pouring rain in Gauteng, to light rain in Cape Town and PE and Durban, to blistering heat (32C in the shade) in Mpumalanga, but a great time was had by all. We had somewhere between around 1700 runners in total country wide.
Meanwhile in Namibia, Sue Wagner from Save the Rhino Trust reports that World Rhino Day was “Amazing!”
I have been blown away by the phenomenal support of local people and businesses. Close to 30 different businesses gave us gift vouchers and prizes for our event and many were also represented at the function. In short, I would say, a successful SRT event that raised immeasurable awareness on World Rhino Day as well as some significant funding.
Kids from three schools — The International School of Walvis Bay, Private School Swakopmund and Namib Primary — took to the streets of Swakop, wearing masks and carrying posters and, in just over two hours, raised close on to N$ 6000 (US $728)!
Rhino Travels and Rhino Media & Communication in Guwahati, Assam, India, hosted a thought-provoking presentation on the conservation of rhinoceros in the different parts of the world: Current Challenges in Conservation of Rhinos in Rhino Range Countries.
Dr. Bibhab Talukdar, Asian Rhino Advisor of the International Rhino Foundation, delivered the presentation, while Dr. Anil Kr. Goswami, Former Member Secretary of WWF-India, Assam chapter presided over the function.
Nepal’s World Rhino Day was celebrated with grassroots coordination between the Mrigakunja Buffer Zone User Committee, Prakriti Pathsala Network Jhuwani Resource Center, and Save the Rhino Foundation Nepal.
A student drawing and essay competition aobut rhino conservation was held, with “The Role of Students in Rhino Conservation” as the essay focus. In addition, an Educational Toolkit covering all five rhino species was distributed to participants. Local media coverage was extensive, and included Radio Chitwan, Beso Television, Chitwan Khabar, the Chitwan Post, the Pardarsi Daily, and the Kayakairan Daily.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya hosted an entire “rhino week” and provided local residents a chance to get into the conservancy for free and see rhinos. On World Rhino Day, Ol Pejeta partnered with Laikipia Wildlife Forum to host a cycling with the rhino competition to raise awareness in Laikipia.
There was a huge turnout with over 100 participants cycling. Children also had a painting competition depicting rhinos and different messages.
Also in Kenya, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy took high school students from one of the Lewa sponsored schools on a game drive round the Conservancy, where they had the amazing opportunity to see a family of white rhinos lazing around by the roadside.
A rhino fact quiz was held, and the winner received a beautiful autographed coffee table book.
At Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW, Australia, funds were raised for the International Rhino Foundation from the “Jump for Rhinos!” at the Jumping Castle on Saturday, and from Rhino Trail keeper talks, the keeper cookie sales, from a behind-the-scenes tour given to the Dubbo Field Naturalists group, and a little bucket shaking at the visitor plaza.
Funds were also raised with Munch Mobile rhino cookie sales (“Munch for Rhinos!”), donation buckets at the gift shop and ticketing desk, and Zoofari tours and framed print sales.
Rhino Internet sponsored a fundraiser at the Phoenix Zoo in honor of World Rhino Day, and sold custom designed t-shirts — with all proceeds going to the rhinos.
The Rhino Internet team was onsite at the Phoenix Zoo with keepers, visiting the white rhino Half-Ear, and helping to raise awareness about rhinos.
Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, held an awareness-raising event featuring keeper talks, hands on activities, and t-shirt sales to benefit rhino conservation.
Visitors also purchased raffle tickets to win a chance to meet Cameron Park Zoo’s resident rhinos, Babe and Jabba!
World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, TRAFFIC and WildAid teamed up for an informative Google+ Hang Out on the Monday following World Rhino Day — here’s where you can view a video of the Rhino Hang Out on Google+.
In addition to the World Rhino Day events noted above:
- Investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer announced the title of his upcoming book, and posted a sneak peek of the cover.
- Dublin Zoo raised funds on World Rhino Day for the Lowveld Rhino Trust in Zimbabwe.
- At Zoo Basel in Switzerland, a special information booth was set up to call attention to the urgent need to protect rhinoceroses. Zoo Basel uses a portion of proceeds from admissions to support an in situ project in India.
- Federal Air placed a World Rhino Day badge on its website
- Edinburgh Zoo held a number of special rhino activities for kids, including coloring, making a rhino mask, and being a “rhino ranger” to identify either Bertus or Samir, the Zoo’s greater one-horned rhinos.
- The Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan- Israel, which currently holds ten rhinos, plans to celebrate rhino day on the coming Jewish holiday of “Sukkot” for almost a week!
- The Bay Islands College of Diving went “Diving for Rhinos.”
The African Conservation Foundation released the following video:
This heartfelt video was posted by Nikela.org:
And on a lighter note:
Note: If you have not yet sent your World Rhino Day photos and/or video clips for inclusion in the World Rhino Day 2012 highlights video, please do so by Friday, September 28th at midnight, Pacific Standard Time (email to: info [at] worldrhinoday [dot] org). The video is scheduled for release next week!
Continuing the battle
The battle to protect rhinos from rhino horn syndicates, wildlife traffickers, and corrupt elements continues. South Africa’s rhino death toll for 2012 reached 381 two weeks ago, with some sources claiming that the figure is now closer to 400.