The new theme called SAFARI THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA began in 2009 and featured The White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) to celebrate the successful "Save the Rhino" project which saved these highly endangered species from certain extinction.
Four of the world's five species of rhinos are "Critically Endangered" and face an extreme risk of extinction in the wild. In 1970, there were around 70,000 rhinos worldwide in total. Today, there are fewer than 18000 rhino's surviving in the wild around the world, of which 80% are found in South Africa.
Following widespread hunting and the reclamation of land for agriculture, approximately 20-30 white rhinos survived in the late 1800's - mainly in the Umfolozi area of South Africa. Since then, owing to intensive management and protection, as well as the development of techniques for the successful translocation of white rhinos to increase populations, their number has increased. By the end of 2003, the wild white rhino population numbered more than 10,000 white rhinos! This is one of conservation's greatest success stories. Sadly the drastic decline in numbers is caused by humans who poach them for their horns to use in traditional medicine or for ornamental purposes. Land encroachment, and pollution have also destroyed their natural habitat, resulting in severe losses.
In spite of an increase in white rhino population, relentless effort on several key fronts by the "Save the Rhino" campaigners must continue otherwise these prehistoric mega-herbivores will only be known in history books as one of the "Big Five". Fortunately by conserving the Rhino, many other species which interact and share the same habitat are also protected.
This 2009 Natura Set contains 4 common scenes in the lives of rhinos on the reverse of the coins.
The common obverse depicts the White Rhinocerous (Ceratotherium simum). The word Rhinoceros means "nose-horn". The horn is not actually a horn but consists of thickly matted hair consisting of Keratin - a chemical substance that our fingernails are made of. The white rhino is not white (it is actually grey) and has been misnamed due to misinterpretation. Because this species is a true grazer its mouth is wide and square lipped and the first Afrikaners named it "wide-mouthed" or "wyd mond". "Wyd/weit" was translated incorrectly as "white".
|Mass:||31.107 g, 15.553 g, 7.777 g, 3.110 g|
|Diameter:||32.69mm, 27.00mm, 22.00mm, 16.50mm|
|Metal Content:||Au 999.9|
|Reverse Die-sinker:||A Minnie, C Moses, C Moses, A Minnie|
|Reverse Artist:||N van Niekerk|
|Obverse Die-sinker:||MJ Scheepers|
|Obverse Artist:||N van Niekerk|
|Purity:||24 carat Gold|
|Extras:||Sterling Silver White Rhino Figurine (Ag 925)|