Rhinos’ prehistoric and strong appearance has fascinated men for centuries and even elephants are weary of their physical power. Yet, only five rhino species survive today: the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) and the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) in Africa; and the Indian or Great one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in Asia. All five of these species are currently threatened.
Everything began when to rhino lovers, Dave Stirling and Johnny Roberts, travelled to Africa to raise funds to stop rhino poaching activities. The moment was critical: between 1970 and 1993 hunting for black rhino was out of control, so much so that, at a certain point, there were only 2,475 black rhinos left in the world.
After their trip and due to what they had seen and learnt about conservation, those two friends created Save the Rhino with the objective of seeing all 5 rhino species that still exist (black, white, Indian, Javan and Sumatran) would thrive in the wild for future generations. To achieve this goal, they set out to work hand in hand with their partners to support all threatened rhinos in Africa and Asia.
After creating Save the Rhino, Stirling and Roberts found some unconditional allies. Gerald Scarfe, a theatrical costume designer, had created a rhino costume for a musical adaptation of the play Rhinoceros, by Eugène Ionesco. One of the actors in the musical , William Todd-Jones – who has also worked in films like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix o The Neverending Story – had heard about Save the Rhino and wanted to donate the rhino costumes.
Stirling and Roberts not only accepted the donation, but they also challenged Todd-Jones to participate in the London Marathon with them wearing the costumes to raise funds for Save the Rhino’s cause. Since them, the race has become a tradition among Save the Rhino members and the organization has gone from owning having two costumes to owning twelve. The costumes are icons of Save the Rhino; thanks to them the organization has raised up to 2 million pounds by running marathons and participating in different raices across Africa in the rhino costumes. At present there is even a waiting list to borrow the costumes for the London Marathon!
In just over 20 years, Save the Rhino has established its activities in 6 countries in Africa and 2 in Asia where it carries out different conservation and awareness programs about the threats faced by all five rhino species present in these continents.
Among the Save the Rhino projects, many of which are supported by the Parques Reunidos Foundation the ones that focus on monitoring against poaching, providing uniforms para los for rangers at the national parks, rangers training programs, and improving the facilities where they live and work, should be highlighted.