The rhinoceros is Africa's armoured giant and has been on our planet for millions of years. But right now they need our help. Poaching and habitat loss are huge threats to these vulnerable populations and, shockingly, there are less than 5,000 black rhino in the wild today. Kenya has Africa's third largest population of black rhino, with around 700 individuals. Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery, WWF are working to protect this iconic species for future generations.
Black rhino are a key part of the East African landscape. They are browsers, eating branches and leaves from bushes and small trees which maintains the scrublands and grasslands. They are also umbrella species - this means that protection for the rhino equals protection for other smaller, lesser known species which share their habitats. As one of Africa's 'Big 5' they also drive ecotourism, which can bring income for some communities.
WWF partners with the Kenya Wildlife Service to counter poaching, equip rangers, build new protected areas, and implement other strategies to protect the black rhino - and this is working. For the first time in years, there has been an increase in black rhino numbers in Kenya.
Poaching is a significant threat to the black rhino population, and is entirely driven by demand for rhino horn in South East Asia, particularly in Vietnam. Rhino horn is believed to have medicinal qualities, even though they are made of keratin – the same substance as our fingernails. Its high price also makes it a status symbol for the wealthy and growing middle class.
Rangers are the first line of defence to stop poaching – and players are directly supporting these wildlife champions! WWF provides equipment for rangers, such as night vision binoculars and tents for field work.
Areas where rhino can thrive and grow in numbers need to be highly protected to ensure their safety. Support from players helped complete a new rhino sanctuary in the heart of Tsavo East National Park. Rhino will soon be translocated into this protected place, under 24-hour surveillance, with the hope that they will be safe.
WWF works closely with the Kenyan government to ensure that there is the appropriate action plan in place for black rhino. Private landowners, government rangers, and NGOs have worked together on a new five-year strategy which provides guidance for rhino protection and management across Kenya.
Thanks to players, this World Rhino Day WWF is celebrating these successes for rhino. But there's still work to be done! To find out more, visit their rhino website.