The increasing threat towards the very survival of the rhinos on the African continent will be highlighted when World Rhino Day is celebrated, drawing attention to the need to boost anti-poaching measures, give greater protection to the species and make it abundantly clear that the substance of rhino horn is the same as that of a human finger nail, i.e. not worth killing the animals for it.
Especially in Southern Africa has poaching of rhinos reached new unprecedented levels and governments were slow to respond, leading to accusations of indifference if not complicity. In Kenya several rhinos were poached this year alone, and while this is nowhere near the scale of slaughter like in South Africa, alarm bells have been ringing amongst the conservation fraternity to prevent more poaching through more decisive measures. Kenya Wildlife Service only recently established task forces and set up camp on the Laikipia plains where on Ol Pejeta the highest concentration of rhinos in Kenya are kept, of the Eastern Black, the Southern White and the rarest of them all the Northern White variety.
The 2011 World Rhino Day will be celebrated on 22nd September in Kenya with a special event, to raise awareness and funds for wildlife conservation. KWS is organizing a cycling race in the Lake Nakuru National Park, in fact three races for juniors, amateurs and then the 74 KM event for the more professional riders while alongside a corporate exhibition event will be held, as will a childrens fun park operate before all visitors and participants can enjoy a big party at the end of the day.
Lake Nakuru National Park was the first national rhino sanctuary in Kenya to where the endangered species was moved in the early 80s to ensure its survival, as were the Rothschild giraffes in fact, and both species have as a result of this move prospered and many rhinos were released back to other national parks across Kenya when Nakuru reached the limit of its natural carrying capacity.
Private rhino sanctuaries like Solio, Lewa Downs and Ol Pejeta too have supplemented, and in fact at times outdone the public conservation efforts, ensuring that rhinos in Kenya were able to survive the challenges of poaching 30 years ago and will equally survive the current unprecedented wave of poaching seen on the continent.
Rhino horn demand has shifted from Yemen, where the horns were used to make ceremonial daggers in the past to the Far East, where in particular in China demand has skyrocketed as a result of economic prosperity, which has seen more and more people able to afford concoctions using ground rhino horn in the mistaken believe of miracle cures. China too is at the forefront of the illegal trade in blood ivory and has inspite of intense pressure failed to strengthen legislation on importation, possession and processing of illicit ivory, and to the contrary attempted in the most recent CITES Executive Committee session to exclude the most vocal and outspoken critics of the ivory trade from the proceedings. Poaching increase has seen across the African continent a direct correlation with the increased presence of Chinese companies and expatriate workers and most arrests at airports in connection with ivory smuggling are in fact Chinese citizens, according to statistics available.