Statistics show that within two decades, rhinos will be extinct. Which means, in my lifetime we could lose these impressive beasts. And I just can’t stand for that. Over 120 travel bloggers have come together with Travelers Building Change and Green Global Travel to raise awareness for rhino conservation and the funds to help make a change through the Great Plains Foundation.
Rhino facts: Rhinos may be extinct within in the next 20 years.
The current situation for rhinos in Africa is dire. Due to the folkloric use of their horns, they have been hunted to the brink of extinction. From a thriving population of nearly 500,000 in the early 1900’s to a mere estimate of 29,000 in the wild today. And there is no end in sight. In fact, 2013 was a record year for rhino poaching with one rhino killed every 7 hours.
Rhino facts: one rhino is poached every 7 hours.
A world without rhinos
As a scientist at the core, I want to know the facts about rhino conservation. So here they are:
- Rhinos are a keystone species, even though they’re not the typical apex predator usually associated with the term. In fact, they’re not even predators, they’re megaherbivores. And that’s the key – they graze on specific grasses and help to maintain the makeup of the grasslands in South Africa. Other research has shown that the extinction of these types of species, and subsequent removal from the ecosystems, has resulted in the extinction of other species.The effects on the savanna ecosystem will be devastating.
- Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are thought to have medicinal properties in some cultures, and sell for a ridiculous amount of money. At the rate of poaching (which is increasing every year, sadly), rhinos have approximately 20 years left. That means they will be extinct within my lifetime. Wow.
- In 1960 rhinos were successfully reintroduced in Kruger National Park in South Africa after hunting and poaching had driven them completely out in 1896. Within 50 years, populations were up over 10,000. This means there is still hope!
- Even more hope comes from the story of the white rhino. Although they are still threatened, after being reintroduced over the last century, they’re numbers have grown to over 20,000 in that area, with several growing populations.
- Rhinos, like most large species, take several years to reproduce. Gestation is 15-16 months, and female rhinos reach reproductive maturity at 4-6 years, while males do so at 7-9 years. After the birth of a calf, females will often wait 2-3 years to mate again. This long life cycle means the rhino population cannot even come close to keeping up with the current rate of poaching.
Rhino facts: Even though rhinos are herbivores, they are still a keystone species, the loss of which could be devastating to the savanna ecosystem.
Rhino facts: the horn of a rhino is actually made of keratin, not bone.
Rhinos without borders
Rhinos Without Borders is spear-headed by conservation advocates Dereck and Beverly Joubert, founders of Great Plains Foundation, who have also done some amazing conservation work with the big cats in Africa. Why not save two massive groups of species in your lifetime, am I right? At this rate, Rhinos will be extinct well within most of our lifetimes, and we can’t have that.
There is hope. RWB’s mission is simple: translocate 100 of the rhinos in Kruger National Park, South Africa to Botswana to protect them from poaching. You can read more about their effort over at Green Global Travel’s interview with Dereck Joubert. Here’s the catch: each rhino costs $45,000 to move. Just One Rhino. At over 3 tons, it’s just not cheap to airlift them over to Botswana. So, the #JustOneRhino campaign’s goals is raise enough funds to move one rhino to it’s new home in Botswana.
Rhino facts: gestation (pregnancy) lasts 15-16 months, and newborn calves can weigh 60 pounds!
What can we do to save the Rhinos?
FSTS, along with over 120 of the world’s top travel bloggers, are working together to raise $45,000 to move one rhino. Fortunately, over 20 sponsors are offering up more than $30,000 worth of truly phenomenal prizes for those who donate. Donations work like this: a $20 donation will get you 10 entries, $30 will get you 20, $50 will get you 30, etc. YOU get to pick which prizes you want entries for!
Here are just a few examples of the AMAZING prizes:
- International Expeditions: 10-day Galapagos Voyage for one. Value $5,298
- Adventure Life: South Africa Big Five Safari: Kruger & KwaZulu-Natal + Swag Bag for 2 people. Value $5000
- Cobblers Cove Hotel, Barbados: Seven nights bed and breakfast in a Garden View suite. Value $5,187
- Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa, Nicaragua: 10 nights’ stay & wellness package for two people at Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Value $5,241
- Secret Retreats: Vouchers for 2 people at Bali Jiwa Villain in Bali, Indonesia. Value $1,000; (2) Vouchers for 2 people at The Scent Hotel in Koh Samui, Thailand. Total Value $3000 ($1,500 for each 2-person package); Vouchers for 2 people at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Kong, Cambodia. Value $900; Vouchers for 2 people at Flower Island, Palawan, Philippines Value $900
- OTHER PRIZES: eBag Luggage, WeWOOD Watches, Dinner/Brunch Cruises, 2 nights in an Italian Villa, 2 Tours in India, ExOfficio Gift Certificate, 2 nights Renaissance Asheville, Travel Blog Success Lifetime Membership, African Elephant Photo Pack, HDR Timelapse Video Camera w/Lens, Blogger Mentorship Package from Green Global Travel
Will you help save our chubby unicorns?? What prize do you want the most? Personally, I’ve got my eye on that trip to the Galapagos – so hands off!