April 1, 2016
Race to Save Rhinos
Saving rhinos from their biggest threat—humans
A rhino lazily chews on some grass at her feet. A short distance away, her baby splashes in a muddy pool of water. Suddenly, the mother twitches her ears, picking up the sounds of possible danger coming near.
It's not a lion or other wild animal that's a rhino's biggest threat. It's people.
One hundred years ago, 500,000 rhinos roamed parts of Africa and Asia. But today, rhinos are threated with extinction. If nothing is done to save them, they could disappear forever.
Poachers are killing rhinos for their horns. Poachers are people who kill wild animals even though it's against the law. They do it to make money.
In some countries, people pay high prices for rhino horn. They believe that eating ground-up rhino horn will make them healthy. But that isn't true. Rhino horn is made of keratin. That's the same thing your fingernails are made of. Eating it cannot make anyone healthy.
By the Book
Humane Society International (HSI) is working to help save rhinos. They wrote a children's book and produced a video to help spread the word. The book, "I'm a Little Rhino," was given to 1.5 million children in Vietnam. That country buys and uses the most rhino horn.
"The goal is to educate children about rhinos in general, and introduce the threat that poaching poses to their survival," says Adam Peyman, program manager for HSI's wildlife department, and illustrator of the book. "It also explains that rhino horn is not effective as medicine and encourages them and their families to avoid buying or using rhino horn."
Carter and Olivia Ries have been working to save rhinos for several years. "We made two trips to South Africa where we visited a dozen schools and met with government officials," says Carter. "We [gave the officials] over 10,000 letters that we collected from youth around the world to show that youth of the world care for rhinos. The next step was to bring that same message to the youth of Vietnam."
Along with six Rhino Ambassadors from South Africa, Carter and Olivia visited schools in Vietnam. They want kids to bring the message back to their parents that using rhino horn "is causing the species to be pushed to the brink of extinction."