World Rhino Day is annually observed across the globe on 22 September to raise awareness about the terrible situation of Rhinoceros or Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) and emphasise the steps to conserve its population.
- The day is dedicated to celebrating all 5 species of Rhinos namely white and black rhinos in Africa, and the greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhino species in Asia.
i.In 2010, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – South Africa announced World Rhino Day, a national crisis to create awareness about the importance of saving these animals.
ii.Since 2011, World Rhino Day has been celebrated internationally on September 22nd every year.
iii.The observance was initiated by two dedicated conservationists namely Lisa Jane Campbell from the Chishakwe Ranch in Zimbabwe and Rhishja Cota-Larson from Saving Rhinos in the United States of America (USA).
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List:
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species:
- The Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis), the Javan or lesser one-horned Asian Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus), and the Sumatran or Asian two-horned Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is categorised as “Critically Endangered“.
- White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is “Near Threatened” and the Greater one-horned Asian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is “Vulnerable“.
About Rhinos and its features:
i.At the beginning of the 20th century, 500,000 rhinos roamed Africa and Asia. By 1970, rhino numbers dropped to 70,000, and now, over 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild.
ii.All five species of rhinos are herbivores, consuming large amounts of vegetation, which helps increase plant biodiversity.
iii.Male rhinos are called ‘bulls’ and females are called ‘cows’. Their young are ‘calves’. Together, a group of rhinos is called a ‘crash’.
Rhino horn is made up of keratin, the same protein that forms the basis of our hair and nails.
Primary threats to Rhinos:
Poaching, Habitat loss, fragmentation, Climate Change, and Illegal trafficking of Rhino horns.
- Ground rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine to ‘cure’ a range of ailments, from cancer to hangovers and the horn is seen as a status symbol, particularly in Vietnam.
Note: In the last decade, poachers have killed almost 10,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia.
2023 State of Rhino:
i.Every September, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) publishes its signature report, State of the Rhino, which documents current population estimates and trends, where available, as well as key challenges and conservation developments for the 5 surviving rhino species in Africa and Asia.
Note: IRF was founded as the International Black Rhino Foundation in 1991 and was renamed as IRF in 1993.
Rhinos in India:
i.In India, rhinos are found in Assam, parts of West Bengal, and Bihar. According to the WWF, there are around 3,700 Indian rhinos in the wild today.
ii.Assam’s Kaziranga National Park (KNP) alone has 2,613 Rhinos, according to a census carried out in March 2022.
Efforts taken to preserve Rhinos in Assam:
i.The Assam government has expanded Orang National Park, a crucial habitat for rhinos, by nearly 200 sq km in north-central Assam to secure the future of rhinoceros populations in Assam.
ii.The newly added land connects Orang National Park to Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary in the east of Assam. This connection is pivotal for the unhindered movement of rhinos between protected areas.
iv.This expansion completes the creation of a linked corridor between all the major rhino-holding protected areas in Assam, including Manas National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Laokhowa and Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Kaziranga National Park.