World Rhino Day

Today is World Rhino Day. Wildlife conservationists and concerned individuals alike are celebrating the large, horned herbivores by spreading awareness about the vulnerable species.  World Rhino Day has grown into a global phenomenon to spread the word about both the beauty of rhinoceros and the dangers they are facing. Here are ten interesting facts about rhinos, as well as ways to contribute to World Rhino Day.

1. There are five species of rhino, which are indigenous to Africa and Asia: black, white, greater one-horned or Indian, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. World Rhino Day celebrates all five species.

2. Rhinos have been around for more than 50 million years. Some of the world’s first rhinos didn’t have horns and roamed through North America and Europe. But no known rhino species have ever inhabited the South American or Australian continents. The Sumatran rhino is the closest living relative of the ancient woolly rhino.

Black Rhinoceros 3

3. Rhino is short for rhinocerous, which means “nose horn.” The rhino’s horn is not bone and it’s not attached to its skull. In fact, its hollow and made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. Just like our own hair and nails, a rhino’s horn continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime. The longest known horn was 4 feet 9 inches long on a black rhino, which on average has a 20-inch horn, according to Save the Rhino, a conservation charity based in the United Kingdom

4. Three of the rhino species are listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which means they have a 50 percent chance of becoming extinct in three generations. With its headquarters in the United Kingdom, the IUCN is the leading world’s authority on the conservation status of species.

Sumatran Rhino 2

There are perhaps 95-125 Sumatran Rhinoceros left in the wild.
A “Last Stand is being made by multiple conservation and government agencies to offer more protection and save this
species from extinction.

5. The IUCN Red List identifies Javan and Sumatran rhinos, two species native to Asia, and the black rhino, which is native to eastern and central Africa, as “critically endangered.” The Indian or greater one-horned rhino, native to the Indian subcontinent, is identified as “vulnerable.” And the white rhino, which mainly lives in South Africa, is identified as “near threatened.”

6. Rhinos can grow to over 6 feet tall and more than 11 feet long. The white rhino is the second largest land mammal after the elephant, with adult males weighing up to a massive 3.6 tons. Thanks to conservation efforts, this rhino species was brought back from the brink of extinction. But a surge in poaching for their horns has seen a record number killed in recent years. There are 20,000 southern white rhinos living in protected areas and private game reserves, mostly in South Africa, and just four northern white rhinos living in captivity in Kenya and the United States.

7. The Javan rhino is the world’s rarest land mammal and less than 50 survive in Indonesia’s Ujong Kulon National Park, according to Save the Rhino.


Perhaps as few as 50-60 Javan rhinoceros remain in the world. However recently three separate calves were seen via camera traps. This gives hope the species can be saved from extinction.

8. Rhinos have poor eyesight and have difficulty detecting someone only a hundred feet away. But they have a high sense of smell and well-developed hearing and can run up to 40 miles per hour.

9. Rhinos have thick skin that can be very sensitive to sunburns and insect bites. The animals wallow in mud, which protects their skin from the sun and bites when it dries.

10. Rhinoceros pregnancies last for 15 to 16 months and mother rhinos are very nurturing. Their young stay with them until they are about  3 years old, according to Save the Rhino


The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival & Biodiversity Conference, October 16-25 in New York, NY will feature several speakers to discuss the conservation of rhino. Also will be the world premiere of HORN, produced by Dr. Reina-Marie Loader of the Cinema Humain and professor at the University of Vienna.

2015 WCFF Post Card


A Call to Preserve Our Predators

A call to preserve our predators

By Cyril Christo / Wildlife Documentarian

The recent decision by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to increase the bear, wolf and mountain lion hunting quota dishonors New Mexico as a maverick gun-toting renegade state. Recently an appeals court opened the door to Wildearth Guardians to end the mercenary and cruel wildlife killing program that Wildlife Services had waged against wildlife. Game and Fish’s stated mission is to preserve wildlife for future generations. Heartlessly murdering the innocent is not part of its stated mission.

We are surrounded by states like Colorado and Arizona that outlaw trapping. We call ourselves the Land of Enchantment, but our acts of murderous folly conspire against this title. As recently stated by the Guardian, a paper written by a group of 14 leading ecologists and biologists from the U.S., Europe and Australia and published in the journal Science, calls for the establishment of an international initiative to conserve large carnivores and help them to coexist with humans. Failure to protect our top predators could soon have devastating consequences, they warn.


“Globally, we are losing our large carnivores,” said William Ripple, the report’s lead author. “Many of them are endangered and their ranges are collapsing. Many are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally. And, ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning to appreciate their important ecological effects.”

Ranchers abetted by certain political appointees want to maximize their profits. Never mind the lupophobia, the fear of wolves, that still exert its power over people’s imaginations. Cows that have run roughshod over a once magnificent continent full of forests may have their creditors, but it should not be in place of beings like bears who do not covet cows and mountain lions whose impact on livestock is less than negligible.


Would you rather see this ?


Or this ?

As a documentarian I blew the whistle on this generation of the elephant slaughter in the tremendous “Agony and Ivory”(written by Alex Shoumatoff) article launched by Vanity Fair in August 2011. The article went viral and galvanized the world. Initially, even the New York Times said it was not interested in elephants. Now the entire world is mobilized to stop the greatest mammalian genocide of our time.

Predators, too, need salvation or the children who are being asphyxiated with video games and Disney movies of Bambi and Nemo will wonder what adults did to the life force. In a time when a remarkable Love Song to the Earth created by singers from Paul McCartney to Sheryl Crow and others are pleading for the planet, it behooves us come to terms with what is at stake, a potentially lifeless planet. Why do we even consider slaying the irreplaceable? For money? For pride? For greed? We can never afford to tell the children “This is where the wild things were.” The masses of nature-deficit-afflicted kids will become a swarm of half children who will be deprived of the meaning of life, playing video games and adding to the tenor of the already most violent country on earth. As an elder in East Africa once told me, “The only thing left will be to kill ourselves!”


Fish and Game must become an agency not for the execution of life but its maintenance, not so called management, a euphemism for outright murder. In The Great Gatsby, the author remarks that this country, the great sweep of its forests, was once commensurate with our ability to wonder. What indeed has happened to our ability to wonder? We are persecuting existence to the point where, if we are not very, very careful, we may well have nothing but a high-tech slum as Edward Abbey once warned us. Let us choose life!


Teaching your children well?

Cyril Christo is an Academy Award-nominated documentarian who has published three books on wildlife and is working on a feature documentary on the elephant and a new book on Africa, Lords of the Earth. He lives in Santa Fe.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival & Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_2014
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

The 2015 WCFF is October 16-25
New York, NY

Frightened Baby Tiger Caged at Football Game


The dumbing of  America is never more present when “traditions” at High school football game in Ohio wheeled a baby tiger in a cage to thousands of screaming fans.

For 44 years, ignorance and stupidity have been the norm at Massillon Washington High School. The new “Obie,” a baby tiger is kept in a cage and wheeled around a loud stadium. He is the latest victim of a cruel tradition that violates animal cruelty and ethics. The cub stands up and puts his paws on the bars of his enclosure as ignorant people scream, shout and take pictures.

Every year Massillon Washington High School acquires a new tiger cubs and has been accused multiple times of discarding the tiger cubs after the season is over.  It is believed that after the football season is over, these “Obie” tigers are sold to private owners, wind up as caged roadside attraction, become breeding animals, pets or sold to canned hunting operations. Animal conservationists have questioned about the legal loophole for educational institutions that allows them to have exotic animals, and a number of petitions protested the tradition.


Despite this, the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club unveiled a new cub mascot, called an “Obie”and is keeping facts about this recent appearance private, they refuse to disclose where the tiger comes from. IS THIS LEGAL?

One fans interviewed at the football game stated “We’re really glad he’s here. He’s been around forever,” (Perhaps too stupid to comprehend that each Obie has been a different tiger cub). “For people that live and breathe football, he’s a huge deal.”

Matt Keller, president of the booster club, told the “It’s a tradition we were able to continue, even if just for one game.


There is an estimated 5,000 tigers are held in captivity throughout the United States; 95% of these animals are privately owned.

* To stop this act of animal cruelty, sign the petition to end the cruel “Obie” Cycle.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Skype: christopher.j.gervais
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Rescued Bears Roam Free


Fours bears were forced to perform tricks and kept in tiny cages at a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years.  Even when the zoo was shut down in 1995 because of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Fifi, Bruno, Pocahontas and Marsha were never allowed to leave their enclosures, not even for humiliating bicycle-riding for small crowds. The bears paced restlessly in their cages, had nowhere to hibernate, suffered from severe arthritis and another of other medical conditions.


Thanks to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), all four of these bears got a new lease on life in 2014. The  bears have been brought to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. There they will recover from their plight, learn how to be wild and live their remaindering days in dignity. The fours bears now live in two vast 15-acre permanent habitats. They can now ample space to climb and roam and bathe in pools. They can even hibernate in underground dens.


Bruno in his new home, living a life with dignity.

PETA has now rescued 41 bears from roadside zoos and backyards across the country. I commend PETA for taking this action and rescuing these animals from a life of misery.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Twitter: @WCFF_org
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival