rhino calf
A three-week-old female white rhinoceros calf runs with her mother Tanda at the Ramat Gan Safari, an open-air zoo near Tel AvivAFP

22 September marks World Rhino Day 2014, the fourth year the event has taken place following its launch by the WWF to raise awareness of the problems facing the species.

This year's theme is Five Rhino Species Forever to celebrate the black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran, and Javan rhinos.

"In addition, World Rhino Day is an opportunity to highlight efforts to debunk the myths and diminish the demand for rhino horn," organisers said.

Rhino facts

rhino
There are five species of rhino remaining in the worldAFP
  • The name rhinoceros comes from the Greek words for nose (rhino) and horn (ceros).
  • White rhinos are the second largest land mammal and can grow to up to 11ft long and six feet tall.
  • Three of the five rhino species are currently listed as critically endangered. Black Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros are all at risk of becoming extinct within the next few generations.
  • Rhino pregnancies last for up to 16 months and their young will remain with the mother until they are three years old.
baby rhino
Baby southern white rhinoceros born in Budapest ZooReuters
  • A group of rhinos is called a crash.
  • Rhinos can run up to 40mph (64kph).
  • Rhinos have secret meetings at night to socialise and mate. BBC footage showed them rubbing their noses to greet one another and squeaking while they played.
  • They are over 50 million years old as a species, having not changed much since prehistoric times.
  • Last year, a record number of rhinos were poached in South Africa, with 1,004 killed illegally – amounting to three rhinos every day.
Rhino horn
Rhino horn seized by South African government officialsReuters
  • Rhino horns are made from keratin – a protein that also makes up fingernails and hair. However, many people in East Asia believe it has medical properties, making demand for it high. This has led to populations plummeting due to poaching.
  • The horn is shaved or ground into a powder then dissolved in boiling water to be drunk. It has no medical benefits whatsoever.
rhino poaching
Rhinos are hunted daily for their hornsReuters
  • Recently, there has been a surge in demand for rhino horn in Vietnam where it is sold as a hangover cure.
  • The Javan rhino is believed to be the world's rarest land mammal, with just 50 living in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
  • Another species of rhino – the Western Black Rhino – was officially declared extinct in November 2013.
  • The biggest threats to rhinos today are poaching, habitat loss, and a lack of protection in war zones and regions of political instability.