By Amelia Meyer
Rhinoceroses are, generally, solitary animals. They establish personal territories and, for the most part, stay within the borders of these regions. The exception is usually during the period in which they are mating. As the world’s available land continues to shrink due to urbanisation, industrialisation, deforestation, agriculture and pollution, the rhinos (as well as the thousands of other species that make their home in these natural areas) are faced with a very dismal future.
Poaching is, of course, the primary reason that rhinos around the world are facing extinction, but loss of habitat is a close second. Therefore, protecting their natural habitat is becoming increasingly important to a number of organisations. However, even individuals can play a role in these initiatives.
Because rhinos need quite extensive areas in which to live and roam, small parks and reserves simply do not fulfil their need. Rather, entire countries and extensive landscapes are required if rhinos are to be able to breed successfully. In addition, it is not simply land that the rhinos need. Rather, they need the natural features that occur on such land including forests, rivers, mountains, and so on. Therefore, conservation efforts need to include such aspects of the habitat, and not just physical space.
Saving the habitat of the rhino requires that local communities are educated and involved in the preservation of the natural resources around them. They need to be supported financially, to some extent, so that they do not rely on the destruction of land to make ends meet. Land-planning initiatives need to be implemented along with the community so that it is upon them to protect their land, and to see positive results for them and their families by their doing so.
At times, certain areas need to be cordoned off and protected with extra effort. This land is then used to promote conservation without hindrance from any external agencies. However, this requires large amounts of money and huge effort. In places where such resources are limited, this is not possible.
In areas in which rhinos and their habitat are particularly threatened, the parks and even the local government are forced to implement security measures. The problem arises, however, when government and land owners are more interested in the money that they can earn in getting rid of such land than in the conservation of the fauna and flora that it supports. This is, sadly, happening all over the world.
As individuals, we have the responsibility to care for the world around us and prevent the loss of habitat inasmuch as we are capable. We can each play a part in conserving the natural habitat of plants and animals by doing the following:
•Do not purchase wood or paper that was not harvested in a sustainable, environmentally responsible way. Look for the stamp of approval of the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. •Recycle, recycle, recycle!
•Conduct fundraising initiatives at your home, school or place of work in aid of organisations that are invested in rhino- and habitat conservation.
•Teach your children from an early age how to love and protect their environment.
•Never support any shop or product that endorses the use of rhino horn or that uses products from the habitat of these creatures.
•Write to your local government and urge them to participate in the conservation of habitats in the area. Get your friends, family members and colleagues to do the same.
•Try to limit the energy and resources that you consume. This goes a long way in protecting the world around you.