The world is full of amazing creatures, but a 5,000 pound vegetarian with a giant horn growing out of its face is pretty spectacular to behold, even in the world of wildlife. Rhinos are not only one of the most iconic animals on the planet, they are also “master architects” in their ecosystems. This means that they help to maintain grazing habitat for other species and generally work to protect biodiversity in their habitat. Sadly, despite the important role they play, these gentle giants are in grave danger.

The illegal wildlife trade has become a billion dollar industry and one of its biggest staples is Rhino horn. There is a false belief that these horns have medicinal properties and as a result of this misinformation, these majestic beasts have been hunted to near extinction. The Javan rhinoceros was declared extinct in  2011 with an estimated 40-60 of them surviving in captivity. While there are still White rhinos and Black Rhinos in the wild, their population is dwindling rapidly due to poaching. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has stated the Black Rhino is “critically endangered” and there are only three Northern White Rhinos left in the wild today.

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Despite the best efforts of conservationists, three rhinos are slaughtered every day. But we can help. The Thin Green Line, an organization dedicated protecting nature’s protectors, has started a Front Line Friend program where you can sponsor a park ranger, like the one in this photo, who is on the ground fighting to save these incredible creatures.

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Over the past 10 years, 1,000 park rangers have lost their lives and 80 percent of these brave men and women were killed by poachers. Because of the risk involved in protecting wildlife and the many deaths over the years, The Thin Green Line has set up a fund to care for the widows and orphans of the park rangers. The fund ensures that the families of rangers lost in the line of duty will have food, shelter, and financial security. The fund also pays for the orphans’ schooling and provides support for entrepreneurial endeavors.

This means that park rangers can protect wildlife so we will be able to enjoy the beauty of the world for generations to come. We can also help to stop this barbaric practice by boycotting the illegal wildlife trade. The Thin Green Line reminded us, “If together, we direct our light into the gloom, then everything might just be okay. And by tending toward kindness and compassion we will brighten tomorrow, but if only we begin today.” Remember the rhinos and start working to save them today!

Image source: Ami Vitale/Facebook