When we think about rhinos, we imagine a powerful animal that commands respect from everyone who comes across it. After all, between that massive horn and their large size, you’d be foolish to try and take on a rhino, right?
Well, sadly, poachers are not deterred by the intimidating presence of the rhino, and as a result, around three of these majestic animals are killed every day for their horns. Although rhino horn is rumored to be a powerful cure for many illnesses, in reality it is only made of keratin – the same compound that makes up our own fingernails.
As humans continue to drive the market for rhino horn, the species is being pushed to the brink of extinction. The Western Black rhino has already been declared extinct from the wild and other members of the species are quickly nearing the same fate. Thankfully, there are many organizations working to protect the rhino species, like the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.
Gertjie, the baby rhino featured in this video, came to Hoedspruit after his mother was brutally killed by poachers. Like human children, rhino calves rely on their mothers for food and essential care, so without his, Gertjie would have never survived in the wild.
For his first few days at the rescue center, Gerjtie was too traumatized to sleep and her caretakers had to keep a constant watch over her. Now, he is doing much better and growing stronger every day. Seeing him cuddle with his human caretaker is incredibly sweet, but it also serves as a reminder of the sad reality facing his species. Gertjie belongs in the wild with his mother, not in a rescue shelter.
We can all take steps to help the victims of the illegal wildlife trade by learning how our consumption habits contribute to their demise. Remember, when the buying stops, so can the killing.