Pretoria — South Africa will join the world in celebrating the third annual World Rhino Day on Saturday.
In an effort to contribute to the fight against rhino poaching, the South African National Park (SANParks) encourages all South Africans to mobilise themselves and join in the activities planned countrywide.
This year's theme for World Rhino Day is "Five Rhino Species Forever", which celebrates both the African and Asian rhino species.
On World Rhino Day, individuals and businesses can show their appreciation for Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) efforts by making a donation to support the work of the organisation that has been monitoring and patrolling Namibia's rhinos for three decades.
The World Rhino Day tradition started in 2010 as an opportunity for people all over the world to take a stand against rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn.
According to Acting Head of Communications at SANParks, Paul Daphne, "World Rhino Day is an opportunity to highlight the efforts being made to fight the scourge of rhino poaching around the world and to debunk the myths and reduce the demand for rhino horn."
Daphne said the current rhino poaching statistics for the Kruger National Park (KNP) stood at 241 for this year.
"It is indeed worrying that we are still losing such a high number of rhinos but the increasing number of successful arrests and steeper sentences such as the combined 58 years imprisonment imposed on two suspected rhino poachers recently is encouraging.
"The KNP has arrested 49 suspected poachers this year. This is not only thanks to the increased cooperation from ordinary members of the public but also from corporate South Africa joining the fight against rhino poaching.
"We hope this will result in successful investigations, effect more arrests and ultimately realise more successful convictions of the perpetrators," Daphne said.
World Rhino Day 2012 will be a special day of celebration for all five species of rhino around the world, hence this year's theme: 'Five Rhino species forever'.
At the recent 702 Walk the Talk and the Jacaranda FM Spring Walk, SANParks decided to Walk for Rhino's, a campaign to create awareness for the plight our country's rhino and to encourage zero tolerance towards rhino poaching, to stop the killing of the country's national heritage.
"Rhino poaching is a crime that is undoubtedly fuelled by a thriving black market trade in rhino horn," Daphne said, adding that the community needs to take part in anti-rhino poaching initiatives.
"We need to go out there and expose these selfish people who are undermining our country. They live in our neighbourhoods and they should be identifiable through their lifestyles.
"Society cannot stand by and watch helplessly as international criminals declare war on our nation. We all need to defend our heritage with everything we have. Stand together with SANParks to stop the killing," he said.