Concern over increased illegal hunting of rhino and the fate of the world’s two rarest rhino species, plus rising demand for rhino horn, has prompted the International Year of the Rhino to be declared.
The call was made by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang in light of the extinction threat facing two rhino species occurring only in his country. His call follows a request from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), supported by other conservation organisations, including the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
“The future survival of both the Javan and Sumatran rhino is dependent on effective conservation action in Indonesia,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.
“The announcement by the Indonesian president and related commitments are welcomed. Strong and clear political messages from the highest levels are required to combat the illegal killing and trade in rhino. We hope this initiative by Indonesia will be a catalyst for more high-level political support and commitment to protect rhino in the wild across all countries concerned,” he said.
Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, under whose jurisdiction protection of endangered species falls, said local rhino species were the closest to extinction of all animals in Indonesia.
WWF headquarters in Switzerland said it “hoped” all rhino range countries in Africa and Asia would join Indonesia in giving priority to securing rhino populations.
This year’s IUCN world congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, in September will also investigate measures encouraging growth in rhino populations, translocation of rhino to protected areas and improving rhino habitat by removing alien plants and providing additional water sources.
The International Year of the Rhino has also been welcomed in South Africa, where poaching continues unabated, with more than 230 killed to date this year.
“The poaching crisis demonstrates there is no single solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade, an increasing global phenomenon,” said Endangered Wildlife Trust CEO Yolan Friedmann.
“It is estimated to be the world’s third largest form of illegal trade and often has its roots in organised, transnational crime.”firstname.lastname@example.org