On 22 September, we celebrate world rhino day. On this day, we take a look at our five rhino species, and attempt to discredit the myths surrounding the medicinal properties of rhino horn.
Here are 10 facts that you may not know about rhinos:
1. There are 5 different species of rhinos left in the world today. This includes the white rhino, black rhino, the greater one-horned rhino, the Sumatran rhino and the Javan rhino.
2. With fewer than 50 Javan rhinos left, they are possibly the rarest animals on earth.
3. The world’s rhino population has decreased by 90% since 1970.
4. South Africa is currently home to about 70% of the remaining rhinos in the world.
5. A total of 769 rhinos have been poached in South Africa this year so far (as of 11 September).
6. Rhinos have been around for 40 million years and play an important role in the ecosystem.
7. The demand for rhino horn comes predominately from Asia where it is used as a traditional Chinese medicine.
8. Rhino horns are not made of bone, but of keratin – the same material found in your hair and fingernails. In other words, chewing on your fingernails should have the same effect as consuming rhino horn products.
9. However, there is absolutely no proven medicinal value in rhino horn.
10. Rhino horn currently fetches a price of about twice as much as gold. The amount of money in the rhino poaching business means that it is extremely difficult to stop, as we are fighting against well-structured operations that use high technology and expensive equipment such as helicopters and high caliber weapons.