Singapore Zoo aims to raise awareness on the plight of rhinoceroses in the wild;
Campaign kick-starts with expert forum including speakers from TRAFFIC and WCS
Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s rhinoceros keepers join guests in clipping their fingernails to symbolise their commitment to rhino conservation ahead of the month-long Rhinos in Trouble awareness campaign at Singapore Zoo, which starts on 20 September 2014. Rhinos’ horns are made of keratin, the same material found in human hair and nails. (PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.)
Singapore, 19 Sept 2014 – Singapore Zoo will launch a rhinoceros conservation awareness campaign, titled Rhinos in Trouble: The Hornest Truth, from 20 September to 20 October 2014 to raise awareness about the plight of rhinoceroses in the wild, and is working closely with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and Wildlife Conservation Society (Vietnam) to stamp out illegal trade of rhino horns.
The month-long campaign is held in conjunction with World Rhino Day, which falls on 22 September. Visitors to Singapore Zoo are encouraged to donate their nail clippings to symbolise their commitment to rhino conservation.
International trade of rhinoceros horn has been illegal since the 80s, yet the market is still thriving today even though science has proven that rhino horn is only as useful as a medicine as human hair and nails are. Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same material found in human hair and nails.
Recent studies by TRAFFIC and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have revealed that current consumption of products made from rhino horn has gone beyond perceived medicinal purposes. Rhino horn has become a luxury item and a status symbol. With the recent increase in wealthy individuals in Southeast Asia, rhino horn is also being used as a “hangover cure” after excessive alcohol consumption by the affluent.
The year 2013 set a record for rhino poaching in South Africa – home to around 75 per cent of the world’s total rhino population, with 1,004 killed. As of 10 September 2014, poachers had already butchered 769 rhinos in the country. If the current trend continues for the rest of 2014, the number of rhinos killed is likely to exceed record set in 2013 by another 100.
Even in Singapore, where the trade of endangered species and animal parts is strictly regulated, there had been cases where its ports were used as transit points. On 10 January 2014, eight pieces of rhinoceros horns weighing a total of about 21.5kg were confiscated at Changi Airport by the Singapore authorities.
With Rhinos in Trouble: The Hornest Truth, Singapore Zoo hopes to raise public awareness and engage Singaporeans to help in the efforts to save the rhinoceros in the wild.
Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We urge the public to refuse any rhino horn or rhino horn products should they be offered any, and to please inform all their friends and relatives to do the same. If we don’t buy the product, demand will fall, and rhinoceroses will not suffer needless deaths. Together, we have to, and we can, ensure there is a future for these magnificent creatures.”
In a statement, Mr David Seow, Secretary General of the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association, appeals to Singaporeans to comply with the Government’s ban on the sale of any rhinoceros products and wishes to convey that there are many alternative medicinal material and products that can replace rhinoceros horns. Members of Singapore Chinese Druggists Association also fully support international conservation agreements and efforts to save the rhinoceros from extinction.
Pre-school guests at Singapore Zoo eager to show their support for rhinos lined up to drop their nail clippings into the Jar of Nails. The children, from Odyssey, the Global Pre-school, enjoyed a preview of the Rhinos in Trouble conservation awareness campaign which starts on 20 September 2014. (PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.)
Rhinos in Trouble: The Hornest Truth kick-starts with a public seminar on 20 Sept from 1pm – 5.30pm, and topics include:
– “Rhino Revolution from Africa to Asia” talk by Ms Jennifer Fox, Co-founder and partner, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa
– “Rhino Horn Trade in Vietnam” talk by Ms Duong Viet Hong, Communications Manager, Wildlife Conservation Society, Vietnam programme
– “Changing minds to save Rhinos: Demand reduction through behaviour change in Vietnam” talk by Dr Naomi Doak, Coordinator, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Greater Mekong Programme
The seminar also features a photography exhibition of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino, taken by wildlife photographer Mr Stephen Belcher. Proceeds from the sale of photographs will go towards wildlife conservation efforts.
LIST OF ACTIVITIES FOR RHINOS IN TROUBLE: THE HORNEST TRUTH
For more information, visit http://www.zoo.com.sg/events-promos/rhino-month-14.html
To make your stand against the rhino horn trade, go to www.zoo.com.sg/thehornesttruth