As a conservationist, I believe it is important that we take the time to learn about the experiences, passions, and interests of others regarding wildlife. In this way, we will be better able to open our perspectives on what experiences or events can trigger positive attitudes towards various conservation initiatives.
And after recently starting a new BrittFit business endeavor, I have had the opportunity to get to know many other individuals who are excited and interested in sharing their own love of wildlife! This is quite refreshing and has reaffirmed by belief that you don’t have to be an expert in the field to inspire change or make a difference.
Take my dear friend and BrittFit client, Cassidy Caywood for example…
Cassidy is a writer herself, a growing fitness enthusiast, and one of the most hard working BrittFit bootcampers I have yet to meet! Within minutes of reaching out to see if any of my friends would be interested in sharing a piece of conservation related writing – Cassidy eagerly responded.
It is my honor to share with you her writing below; where she describes her love for rhinos, various causes of their endangerment, and her knowledge regarding the importance of their protection.
It is my hope that I can continue to share additional pieces of writing from others also inspired by the wildlife around us.
So thank you Cassidy for being bold, for taking the time to write the following conservation piece, and for caring!
– by Cassidy Caywood (@cassidycaywood)
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word rhinoceros?
Many people, like my past self, would have said rhinos are wild and aggressive creatures. Yet, after having a first-hand encounter with rhinos and doing my own research, I’ve learned otherwise!
Rhinos are greatly misunderstood. We can all relate to that, right? The truth is, rhinos are just friendly giants from Asian and African descent. This misconception is understood when you learn that they don’t have the best eyesight; and what these amazing creatures lack in eyesight, they definitely makeup for in all their other senses! When a rhino smells or hears something that could possibly be a threat, they will charge. This is where people get the idea that their temperaments are angry and moody. At the end of the day, this herbivorous creature would much rather graze and wallow in mud all day.
Sounds cute, I know. That’s because when a rhino is safely behind the walls of an animal sanctuary, it is cute! When they’re out in the wild though… sadly, it’s not so cute. The rhino’s indifference to a human’s presence is what makes them an easy target for poachers. They are a species that is severely endangered. In fact, 96% of the entire rhino population has been diminished. This means that humans kill about three rhinos each day.
These numbers are absolutely devastating. At this rate, we are destined to fail the rhino completely.
There are many different ways in which humans are the biggest threat to rhinos. For one, in the native land of Asia, more and more rainforests are being destroyed. The human population is growing which means the need for village expansion is increasing. It just so happens that wood from the rainforest is a popular building material for furniture in Western cultures. This habitat loss is creating desolate living environments for the rhinos, while also putting them directly in front of the humans who pose a great threat to their species.
This leads into the second way in which humans are threats to the rhino. We look at this species through a very foggy and selfish lens. People who practice Chinese medicine believe that a rhino’s horn has a variety of health benefits. Many will grind it up and add it to their tea in hopes that it’ll cure cancer or stop a fever. This is absolutely, without a doubt proven to be false. A rhino’s horn is made solely of keratin. This is the same material that our human hair and fingernails are made of – yet we don’t see people grinding up fingernail trimmings to add to their tea. This misunderstanding is due to a lack of education and knowledge on the subject.
Now… I know what you’re thinking.
“How can I help an animal that’s not even native to my country?”
Actually, there are plenty of ways you can help!
The first thing you can do is purchase wisely. While you may not necessarily be consuming rhino horn, products made from rainforest woods are common. Many different furniture stores will sell pieces that are made from rainforest products. Keep this in mind next time you furniture shop; not only will the rhinos be benefitting, but also many other animals could be saved too! When you purchase a product from the rainforest, you are unintentionally voting in support of deforestation. By shopping consciously, you can make a positive impact for animals of all kinds.
Another huge way you can make a positive impact on the rhino’s fate is by using your voice. Unfortunately, the rhinos don’t have a voice we can listen to, which is why we must speak up for them. Education and knowledge is key. Many people are still unaware that the rhinos are in grave danger. Using your voice to speak up and spread the word can help to get even more people chatting and looking for ways to help. Usually people are innately good and want to help when they are presented with easy ways to make a difference! Education is also important because people who support the use of rhino horn in medicinal practices often don’t know that it isn’t beneficial. If people can be educated out of this misconception, another rhino that may have been poached for their horn could be saved! Both knowledge and education, in any and all forms, can help to save our happy, grazing friends!
Donations, of course, are always helpful. While you may not physically be able to contribute to the fight, someone else can. With the proper funds, anything is possible. However… research, research, research to ensure that the organization you find is ethical and honest.
Personally, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one that I recommend. Their 1,800-acre stretch of both enclosed and free-roaming land is dedicated to rehabilitating, researching, and breeding animals that are endangered. The main goal for those working with the different endangered species is to get them back out and viewed in their wild habitat. They are a non-profit organization that thrives off the money their visitors pay in order to receive admittance tickets, passes, and safaris. This means, the animals you get to touch, feed, and photograph during your trip are fed and enriched through the money you spent on purchasing your ticket! Nearly every single staff member will thank you over and over again for your contribution, and they are anything but short of knowledge and education. By simply going to see how truly amazing these misunderstood creatures are, you are contributing to years of life-saving research, rescues, and enclosure enrichments for our fuzzy friend… the rhinoceros.