Rhinos Extinct in 20 years? A Sobering Possibility. How You Can Help Save #JustOneRhino

White Rhino in Timbavati, South Africa

I’d like to share some numbers with you: 1020. 24. 10. 20

1020 is the number of rhinos poached in South Africa in 2014.

24 is the average number of rhinos slaughtered by poachers in a week.

10 is the number we lose on any given weekend.

20 is the short number of years experts estimate rhinos will become extinct in the wild if we can’t turn the tide.

Nearly 80% of Africa’s total rhino population resides in South Africa, and in the last five years, poaching has increased three-fold according to WESSA, the Wildlife and Environment Society of Africa. In that time nearly 3500 rhinos were slaughtered leaving a population that can no longer breed fast enough to keep its numbers sustainable unless we intervene.

Rhino Mother and calf in Timbavati, South AFrica

Rhinos have been an important part of a wide range of ecosystems for millions of years; we must not let them join the dodo in extinction.

On the open market in China and Vietnam, the world’s largest consumers of rhino horn, 2 kilograms [4.0 lbs] sells for upwards of $65,000. It’s almost impossible to conquer the kind of greed that comes with figures like that but Rhinos Without Borders, (RWB), led by the Great Plains Foundation founders and world-renowned National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, In partnership with &Beyond, they are fighting the good fight, and we can help. RWB is pledging to move 100 rhinos, in 2015, from South Africa to Botswana where they will be safe.

Why Botswana you ask? In a 2014 interview with National Geographic, Dereck Joubert had this to say:

Botswana wants rhinos. And Botswana has the lowest poaching rate in all of Africa.

It’s as much a story of moving a hundred rhinos as it is about spreading the risk. One of the worst things we can do is continue to keep the entire pool of assets in one place. This relocation project will be making it harder for poachers to come in and hit a hundred rhinos.

What’s great about Botswana is that culturally and practically they’re not arrogant. They realize they have to keep updating their equipment, so there’s a real drive to make sure these forces are ready for poachers. There will be a ramped-up effort, the specifics of which I’m not going to tell you. But these rhinos are going to be protected.

More on that later…

Rhinos are equal parts magnificent and surreal and I feel blessed to have seen them in the wild. While they can look prehistorically fierce, they are gentle creatures that prefer to keep their distance. Even rhinos that have acclimated to humans roaming their habitat are far more skittish than their lion and elephant counterparts, and until last year I never viewed any at length. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a stray horn or a large grey butt moving through some dense foliage, but that was about it.

White Rhinos lounging about on a riverbank in Timbavati, South Africa

Fun (well, not so fun) Fact: There are only a little over 5k black rhino and a 20k rhinos left in all of Africa

White Rhino in Timbavati, South Africa

For such big, menacing-looking creatures the rhino is rather shy. How cute is that?

In June 2014 that all changed. I was on safari in Timbavati, South Africa, and our group was high on a ridge overlooking a crash (the term used for a group of a rhino) relaxing on the deep, sandy banks of a river. There were seven altogether, a large number considering rhinos don’t typically form tight herd structures, and we were beside ourselves with excitement as we watched them greet each other, drink from the river, and play.

I learned that night that rhinos squeaked. Yep, you read that right. Squeak. Those giant grey tanks with horns that can pierce flesh, sound like helium escaping from a balloon. It was hysterical and wonderful and incredibly endearing. (You can listen to it here)

I knew after that night that I could no longer think of them as an abstract creature that lived thousands of miles away from me. They squeaked, my heart melted, and suddenly they were all too real. Their plight became all too real.

Just One Rhino

Momma Rhino and baby in Timbavati, South Africa

Fun Fact: White rhino have a gestation period of approximately 16 months.

I don’t know about you, but the statistics above are overwhelming. Trying to wrap my head around saving an entire species is daunting, but focusing on one rhino, well, that seems doable.

Join me and over 100 travel bloggers in an initiative aptly named Just One Rhino (#JustOneRhino). Led by Travelers Building Change and Green Travel Media, we want to raise $45,000 so that Rhinos Without Borders can move one rhino from South Africa to Botswana. 100% of the proceeds raised will be used to fund the rhino relocation process.

I know that seems like a lot of money but this kind of initiative requires a small army of specialists, rangers, veterinarians and pilots, not to mention trucks, helicopters and months of preparation.

We’d love it if you would help; here’s where you can DONATE

Wait, you didn’t click the link. Hmmmm… if the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get by contributing to the health and well-being of an endangered species isn’t enough to get you to click the link above then consider this:

There are prizes to be won.

Just One Rhino has amazing partners that are offering over $30,000 dollars in trips and other cool stuff. Once you donate you’ll be given virtual “tickets” and have the opportunity to choose the top three prizes you want to win. On March 1, 2015, tickets will be drawn via lottery and, come on, you know you’ll win!

Black rhino female and calf snuggle in Kenya

Black rhino are browsers (i.e., they eat trees, bushes and shrubs), compared to their cousins, white rhinos: which are grazers. When they bite off woody plant parts they often leave a clean-angled (pruning-shear type) edge (elephant tend to shred the ends of branches like a toothbrush), achieved by the shape of their hooked lip. This neatly bitten, woody material can be clearly seen in the traces of their dung.

Check out the prizes below and most importantly, don’t let rhinos become extinct on our watch. Help us. Help them. Donate now.

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JustOneRhino Sponsor Graphic

—Rhino Fun Facts and caption info from Save The Rhino


9 replies »

  1. There was something in the paper here recently that there are only 5 white rhinos left in the world, how on earth did we let this happen?
    I think Rhinos are one of my favourite animals. I love them.

    • That may be for a specific type of white rhino but not overall. There are 20K in South Africa but the numbers are dwindling faster than they can breed at this point with poaching. There’s only 5K black rhino left in South Africa. I focus on SA only because 80% of the total African population is in that country. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this sobering post, and your wonderful photos.I think relocation is one good way to fight for them. I’ve been privileged to have seen a few of them over the years. Will try to help with my two cents.

  3. Your photos of the rhinos are incredible. It is distressing to think how many species have become extinct within my lifetime even – particularly given society was well aware of the need for conservation of habitats and species – and even within the lifetime of my kids. It’s awful.

    • That it is Laura.. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes. Elephants, Rhino, Lions.. they are all threatened.. Thank you for reading and if you can share with your friends I would be very grateful. Have a wonderful day!

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