The international conservation charity, WWF, is asking people everywhere to make September an action month to stand with the world’s embattled rhinos and the “rhino warriors,” the men and women who struggle to protect the pachyderms from poachers.
September solidarity with rhinos is to culminate with “Make Noise for Rhinos Day,” during which people are asked to blow their vuvuzelas, the plastic replicas (like the one in the photo above) of the traditional African noise-maker made notorious by the recent World Football Cup tournament. Vuvuzelas were also used outside BP world headquarters in July by demonstrators wanting to express their displeasure at the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you don’t have a vuvuzela to express support for rhinos, no worries–you can toot a car horn or make a noise with any other kind of instrument, the organizers say.
WWF launched the campaign today “to raise support and funding for those rangers who put their lives on the line to protect Africa’s rhinos,” the organization said in a news release prepared by WWF South Africa.
“Rhino poaching has increased dramatically over the last year-and-a half, fueled by demand for horn in Asia for use in traditional medicines. South Africa, proud stronghold of the African black and white rhino with more than 80 percent of Africa’s rhino populations, has been losing at least 20 of the animals per month. In the last five years, more than 600 rhinos were poached across the African continent,” WWF explained.
“We’re asking people to take action during the month of September to help us protect our remaining rhino populations and also support our rhino warriors–the men and women at the frontline who risk their lives daily against the sophisticated, ruthless and heavily armed international criminal gangs who run the illegal rhino horn trade,” said Joseph Okori, Head of WWF’s African Rhino Programme.
In the last five years, more than 600 rhinos were poached across the African continent, according to WWF.
National Geographic photo of rhinoceros in Laikipia, Kenya, by Michael Nichols
“During the month-long campaign WWF will be stepping up its support to security efforts in dangerous areas with high rates of poaching and will be seeking public support through awareness-raising events,” WWF elaborated in its news statement.
The WWF campaign is also to raise support and funding for those rangers who put their lives on the line to protect Africa’s rhinos.
National Geographic photo of baby rhino in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, by Michael Nichols.
September 22: Make Noise for Rhinos Day
“The month will culminate with a ‘Make Noise for Rhinos Day,’ during which WWF will ask people to dust off their vuvuzelas at 1 pm CET [Central European Time, one hour ahead of Universal Coordinated Time], on Wednesday September 22 and make noise with the horns (or toot their horns or blow their didgeridoos or their alpine horns or any other kind of horn) in support of African rhinos in a symbolic call for effective international action against rhino poaching.
“This action will tell governments around the world to take this issue seriously, strengthen law enforcement, and impose strict legal penalties as successful deterrents to these crimes,” WWF said.
National Geographic photo of rhino in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, by Chris Johns
“People can show their support by going to wwf.panda.org/rhino/donate where they can offer donations for rhino conservation, learn more about issues pertaining to saving rhinos and also share this information with others”, Okori said. “Together we can stop the criminal elements that are plundering our national heritage and a global asset.”
Donations to WWF will buy much-needed anti-poaching equipment for guards including binoculars, radios, night-vision gear, body armour, and rhino-tracking and camping equipment. Donations also will provide training for anti-poaching units and be used for emergency veterinary treatments for injured rhino, WWF said.
A 1997 photo of a ranger guarding a black rhino in Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
National Geographic photo by Chris Johns
“The poaching trend is extremely worrying,” Okori said. “If it is not stopped, the rhino conservation wins of the last decade will be in jeopardy, which will greatly affect biodiversity as well as the tourism industry and the communities that benefit from it.
“It’s gratifying that a number of organizations have stepped up to act on this issue, and WWF and Lead SA are partnering in their efforts.
WWF believes our international presence in more than 100 countries, including those where much of the horn is shipped to, will help make this campaign effective.
“WWF also works with and supports local conservation organisations such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South African National Parks, North West Parks and others in other rhino range states to respond to this increasing threat and secure Africa’s rhino populations.”
Posted by David Braun from media material provided by WWF
Related reports from the rhino war zone:
NGS stock photo of South African poster by Steve Raymer
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