Rhinos and the Illegal Wildlife Trade

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Our feature endangered species of June is...

The Rhino

Photo of a rhino

Due to habitat loss and being illegally hunted for their horns, very few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 500,000 rhinos roamed Africa and Asia, but today, as few as 29,000 rhinos remain in the wild. Due to conservation efforts, populations of all five species of rhino are climbing in numbers, but protection of them is still vital for their survival.

Poaching, driven by consumer demand for rhino horn primarily in Asia, poses the biggest threat to rhinos. Rhino poaching levels hit record highs in 2015, with poachers slaughtering at least 1,300 rhinos in Africa. Then in 2017, 691 rhinos were poached, and 508 in 2018.

Image of rhino with horn missing
The main markets for rhino horns are in China and Vietnam where they are sold whole as a high-value gift item, or ground up for use in traditional medicine, a party drug, a health supplement, a hangover cure, or most recently, a cure for cancer.

Read more about rhinos here.

Also check out the film, Rhinos in the Freezer on The Green Channel.

Because of poaching and climate change causing the destruction of its environment, black rhinos from Africa and Sumatra and in particular Northern Kenya white rhinos are endangered. In order to preserve these prehistoric giants from extinction, a scientific team from Berlin are developing techniques to freeze embryos in order to allow artificial insemination to resurrect the rhinos later on once it will be safe again for them to live in the wild. Rhinos may soon find the ultimate refuge not in the wild, but in the freezer.

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Speaking of illegally traded animal parts... there's some good news for pangolins!

Photo of a pangolin
On Tuesday, the Chinese Pharmacopeia Commission announced China has removed the use of pangolin scales and other parts used for preparing traditional Chinese medicine, as well as raised the animal's protection level!

Read more here.

And if you haven't yet already, head to our series Giving Nature a Voice - Episode 1 featuring pangolins - the world's most trafficked mammal.

Pangolins are toothless, gentle creatures that feed on insects using their tongue. Unfortunately for pangolins, their protective scales are made of keratin, just like the rhinos’ horns. Used in traditional Chinese medicine, pangolin scales command a black market price of $6000 a kilogram. But they won’t be around much longer if nothing is done to save the world’s most trafficked mammal. Watch now here.

Don't forget to check out our latest release!

Tipping Point by Dylan D’Haeze
There is one issue that unites us all no matter what part of the world you live in: climate change. But what is climate change? What is being done about it? And what can you do to help? In “Tipping Point”, 13-year-old filmmaker Dylan D'Haeze explores the ways in which humans have impacted the planet from the greenhouse effect causing ocean acidification to how industrial farming creates more methane. The film also goes over recent, drastic fluctuations in weather as well what is being neglected when those in charge turn a blind eye in order to increase profits for corporations.

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