CAPE TOWN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- South Africans on Friday marked World Rhino Day with a pledge to curb mounting rhino poaching.
Every year on September 22, the world marks World Rhino Day to raise awareness around the impact of rhino poaching. The theme of this year's World Rhino Day is Five Rhino Species Forever, in reference to the five species of rhino: the black rhino, white rhino, greater one-horned rhino, sumatran and javan rhinos.
In a message to the nation, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa thanked all government departments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and all South Africans for their commitment to conserve rhinos, one of the world's most iconic species.
"Whilst it is important to acknowledge the efforts of government departments and agencies in implementing the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach, at the same time we must recognize the efforts of our communities, the NGO community, business, and all ordinary South Africans who are doing their part," said Molewa.
South Africa, home to the largest rhino population in the world, bears the brunt of rhino poaching, losing 1,175 rhinos in 2015. So far no official figures have been provided for the rhinos lost in 2016.
For the last decade, more than 6,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, according to Wildness Foundation Africa.
Molewa said South Africa continues to have a proud record for species conservation despite the grim impact of the illicit transnational wildlife trade on rhino horns.
"We continue to register successes in bringing poaching numbers down," said Molewa.
South Africa brought the rhino back from the brink of extinction in the 1960s and today has an estimated 20,000 black and white rhinos.