Today is World Rhino Day. Unfortunately, as we mentioned on International Tiger Day, animals don’t really get their own holiday unless they’re almost extinct. Rhinos are no different. Below are four essential facts about the rhinoceros and one you can use to keep it alive.

A rhino calf. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A rhino calf. (Photo: Creative Commons)

5) Rhino Poaching Is the Worst It’s Ever Been

More rhinos were killed in South Africa last year than ever before. According to the South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs, 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed in 2014 – that’s 200 more than in 2013 and almost twice the number killed in 2012. The numbers are no better in the rest of Africa. The World Wide Fund for Nature reports that the population of Northern White Rhino has been all but annihilated. There were just 15 members of the species in 1984, down from 2,000 in 1960. But now…

4) There Are Only Five Northern White Rhinos Left on Earth…

…and soon there will be none. Following the recent deaths of Suni, a 34-year-old white rhino male living in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and Angalifu, a 44-year-old white rhino male living in San Diego, there is now just one white rhino male on the planet. That rhino, Sudan, now lives under 24-hour armed guard in Ol Pejeta. His horn has been sawn off to deter poachers.

3) Rhino Horn Is Mind-Bogglingly Expensive…for No Reason

One kilogram of rhino horn can go for anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000 (and the average horn weighs four). As Groupelephant.com points out, that’s more money than most Africans will see in their lifetime. The average annual income on the continent is $1,700 – which shrinks to $315 if you discount South Africa. Yet rhino horn is almost entirely made up of keratin, the same stuff that composes your hair and nails. Unfortunately, powdered rhino horn has long been considered a medicinal cure-all in Africa and Asia.

Black Rhino at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia. (Image Credit: Matthew Field)

Black Rhino at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia. (Image Credit: Matthew Field)

2) So South Africa Is Thinking About Legalizing It

For all of the reasons above, the South African government is weighing the pros and cons of legalizing the rhino horn trade. After all, it’s largely because international trade of the horn was banned in 1977 that its black market value has risen so absurdly high. Unfortunately, while legalizing the horn would force prices to drop, it would not stop the illegal killing of rhinos elsewhere on the continent. In the meantime, other alternatives are being considered, such as growing horns in laboratories and investing in public awareness campaigns. In Vietnam, demand for rhino horn decreased by 38 percent following a year-long public information program implemented by Humane Society International and CITES.

1) You Can Help Rhinos

Yes, you really can. All of these facts are daunting, but efforts are being made to protect rhinos from the reckless greed of poachers. Visit any one of these sites to learn more about how you can join the fight against illegal wildlife trade:

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