Today’s Solutions: January 29, 2023

Rhinoceros populations are beginning to recover in the species’ native Zimbabwe, indicating that conservation efforts are bearing fruit, according to animal conservationists.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group, Zimbabwe’s rhino population has exceeded 1,000 for the first time in more than three decades. This comprises 614 black rhinos and 415 white rhinos, which are both classed as severely endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Despite rising food and gasoline prices, dedicated conservationists continue to safeguard the country’s rhinos “with great success,” according to the International Rhino Foundation, which was created 31 years ago in the midst of a poaching crisis.

According to Christopher Whitlatch, spokesperson for the International Rhino Foundation, the populations have prospered thanks to the careful protection, monitoring, and management of these creatures.

Pumpkin, the orphan rhino

Pumpkin, a black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Bubye Valley Conservancy, was injured and orphaned by poachers yet continues to thrive after being re-released into the wild just months later.

Whitlatch added that on a routine patrol in July 2020, conservationists from the Lowveld Rhino Trust discovered Pumpkin’s mother, who poachers had slain. The conservationists saw “little bloody footprints,” near her carcass, which led them to Pumpkin, who was barely alive after being shot in the torso by the poachers, according to Whitlatch. She was roughly 16 months old at the time.

Pumpkin’s resolve to live was obvious from the start, as was her “spunk” and “charisma,” expresses Whitlatch. She even took a bottle from her caregivers, which was unusual for young rhinos, and gave them hope that she would survive.

As Whitlatch reports, Pumpkin is closely monitored and has become friendly with a young male black rhino of the same age named Rocky, giving conservationists optimism that they may mate and procreate.

Pumpkin was released back into the protected territory in October 2020, where she continues to thrive today, after several months of recovery.

Poaching is on the rise again

According to the International Rhino Foundation, rhinos have nevertheless had a challenging year. According to the IRF, after a brief slowdown in poaching due to COVID-19 epidemic limitations, criminal networks quickly adapted to the new challenges, and poaching rates and trade volume have begun to rise again this year, which speaks to the necessity of conservation efforts for all endangered animals, everywhere.

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