International Year of the Rhino Begins
5 June 2012: With increasing concerns for the fate of the two rarest rhinoceros species, as well as increased illegal hunting of rhinos and demand for rhino horn affecting all five species, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia announced that 5 June 2012 will be the start of the International Year of the Rhino.
The President took this step at the request of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other conservation organizations. The initiative is supported by 11 countries that have rhino populations, including Bhutan, India, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is hoped that during the Year, all rhino range States in Africa and Asia will give priority to securing their rhino populations.
Indonesia also committed to: establishing a high-level rhino task force of national and international experts; allocating sufficient resources to enforce protection of remaining rhino populations; and ensuring regular and intensive monitoring of all rhino populations in Indonesia. Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Forestry, Indonesia, invited all stakeholders and world organizations to join the effort to save the rhinos.
John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), expressed hope that the initiative will serve as a catalyst for further high-level political support and commitments to protect the rhino. Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), urged all rhino range States to participate in this initiative. [IUCN Press Release] [Embassy of Indonesia Press Release]