Rhinos are formidable creatures familiar to everyone from films and photographs and visits to the zoo. They have been around for 40 million years and are an important part of a wide range of ecosystems in Africa and Asia. There are five species: black, white, greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran. All of these are threatened with extinction – three are ‘Critically Endangered’ as defined by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). This means that they will not survive without massive and urgent action. We must not let them join the dodo in extinction!
At the turn of the 19th century there were approximately one million rhinos; by 1970 there were around 70,000. Today, there are only around 28,000 rhinos surviving in the wild and more than 20,000 of those are white rhinos. But in 1900 there were fewer than 50 white rhinos in the world! Conservation can work if it’s done well.
Poaching is the main reason for their current decline; 1,004 rhinos were poached in South Africa during 2013 with at least another 100 being poached in other countries. The rate of poaching has escalated so rapidly that this year experts predict that deaths will overtake births and even the white rhino will start to decline again.
For many conservationists the rhino crisis is arguably the most urgent conservation priority on the planet. Paignton Zoo has been supporting rhino conservation in Africa for many years, but we want to do even more, so the funds raised from this project will be used by Paignton Zoo to increase our support for rhino conservation.