Award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park favourites Dayo and Hodari took centre stage today to celebrate World Rhino Day.
The two-year-old black rhinos were the star attractions at a series of fundraising events to spotlight the plight of the endangered animals.
The playful black rhinos enjoyed the late summer sun at the park’s African Plains Reserve as special talks and Ranger sessions were held about the at-risk species.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation, based at the park in Branton, near Doncaster, is a key supporter of Rhino conservation projects and funds raised are helping the species recover from a 96% decline in numbers over a bleak 20-year period.
Dayo and Hodari, who weigh in at around 800kg, will mature to a full height of six feet tall at the shoulder and a full weight of 1,500kg.
“They are clearly YWP favourites and children just love watching them run around and wallow in the mud and pools on the reserve but lots of work needs to be done to preserve this species,” said Cheryl Williams, YWPF Trustee.
“World Rhino Day is really important focal point of the conservation campaign and it is great to spread understanding about these incredible animals and acknowledge the work being done to make sure they are with us for generations to come.
“The funds raised by visitors to the park and supporters of he Foundation are making a big difference to the rhinos’ chances of survival.”
The Foundation has funded two key Save the Rhino projects that are protecting the black and white rhino population in Kenya, which has been targeted by ruthless poachers who have left many young rhinos orphaned and vulnerable. The grants support anti-poaching initiatives at the Ol Jogi Game Reserve and the constructions of enclosures, called bomas, to care for injured or orphaned rhinos needing care and treatment. Another grant has boosted communication systems, including digital radios, so staff can monitor poaching threats.
The Foundation and Park work closely with international Rhino organisations and Save the Rhino charity has praised its work and long term commitment.
World Rhino Day has seen celebrations and educational initiatives across the globe in a concerted effort to help all five species of rhino recover from the decline across Africa and Asia from the millions to just 30,000 in 2015. Black rhino figures dropped from 65,000 in 1970 to less than 3,000 by 1993 but are now at 5,000.
Numbers across all rhino species are edging back up, thanks to conservation projects, but poaching remains an ever-present threat. YWP puts conservation at the heart of all its activities and offers visitors a mesmerising walk through experience coming almost face to face with some of the world’s most endangered and beautiful animals including Amur Leopards and Tigers, Lions, the country’s only Polar Bears and many more.