One of the most amazing sights I remember from the various safaris I made while I lived in Africa was of seeing a rhino running across Matopos National Park, in Zimbabwe. It was a magnificent creature, though slightly less magnificent for its horn having been surgically removed to prevent poaching.
Despite measures such as surgically removing horns, poaching continues to be a huge problem for rhinos. In 2007 13 rhino were killed for their horns in South Africa. In 2010 the figure was 333. So far, in 2011, 291 rhino have been poached in South Africa. These figures are shocking and don't bode well for the future of that wonderful iconic animal in Africa (most rhinos in Africa are found in South Africa).
There are five species of rhinos across Africa and Asia and all of them are threatened with extinction. There are, for example, only 50 Javan rhinos left in the wild (and none of this species in captivity) making this the most endangered mammal species on earth.
By far the greatest threat to rhinos is the myth that their horns contain medicinal compounds. So this year's World Rhino Day is using that as its campaign theme. Rhino Conservation has a good article: Busting the Rhino Horn Medicine Myth with Science.
Alison Nicholls, a wildlife artist, has written an excellent post for World Rhino Day, which includes a beautiful painting of a rhino, you can see it here.
You can read a poem I wrote about rhinos here.
World Rhino Day celebrates these amazing animals and raises awareness about their plight and about the fact that their horns are not medicine.
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can read more.