In 2007, poachers killed 13 rhino in South Africa. In 2011, this number has risen to 448 and the number of rhinos killed so far this year is 245. South Africa is just one of many countries faced with a tremendous and brutal surge in rhino-poaching. The rhino’s survival in the wild will depend on coordinated and effective conservation action. Recent efforts have been made by conservation organizations and the President of Indonesia to renew the momentum to address the rhino’s perilous return to the brink of extinction.
In the last decade, two rhino subspecies, the Western Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) in Cameroon and the Indochinese Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicusannamiticus) in Vietnam have gone extinct. Today, the populations of two more subspecies, the Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) and the mainland population of the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis lasiotus), both listed as Critically Endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, are frighteningly close to extinction because of an increase in illegal hunting.
Increasing alarm for the fate of the two rarest rhinoceros species and growing concern over the increased illegal hunting of rhinos has prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia to declare 5 June 2012 as the start of the International Year of the Rhino. President Yudhoyono took this step, at the request of IUCN and other conservation organizations, in the hope that all rhino range states in Africa and Asia will join Indonesia and give priority to securing their rhino populations.
This week, the United Nations TV (UNTV), and the Secretariat of CITES launched the film ‘Rhino under threat’ at Rio + 20. From the massive parks in South Africa and Swaziland, to the crowded streets of Hanoi in Vietnam, the film shows the brutality of the current spike in illegal killing of rhino and the impact it is having on local communities. The film investigates what is driving the demand for rhino horn in Asia and the powerful measures being taken by national authorities to fight this crime.
SOS – Save Our Species is doing its part in helping rhinos by supporting a monitoring and patrolling project focusing on a subpopulation of the south-western subspecies of Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in Namibia. This subpopulation is the largest truly free-ranging Black Rhino population left in the world and has been rated as one of only six Key 1 black rhino populations in the world by the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group.
"SOS is willing to do much more to provide coordinated support to those fighting daily for the survival of this iconic species" says SOS Director Jean-Christophe Vié, "we are calling on donors to join forces with SOS to achieve a larger and more enduring impact."