Monday, September 10, 2012

Endangered Species Monday: Black Rhinoceros

Sticking with the theme of rhinos this month, today's featured endangered species is the Black Rhinoceros. As one of the five remaining rhino species, the black rhino is one of three classified as critically endangered by the IUCN.

According to the International Rhino Foundation, the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) has suffered from the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. The poaching epidemic ran rampant from 1970 to 1992 and the species decreased by 96% - from 65,000 down to 2,300 in the wild - that is a huge amount of rhinos killed.

Illegal hunting and poaching of the black rhino for its horn have devastated the population over the last three decades. Its range has been reduced to scattered pockets in remote areas and reserves that are patrolled. In areas where poaching is common and not easily controlled, game wardens with the help of organizations like WWF will tranquilize the animals before moving them to sanctuaries. Dehorning the rhinos in some regions has helped to protect them from poachers, but there are mixed feelings about this form of conservation.

Did you know?

  • The black rhino can't see objects in detail beyond a range of about 100 feet.
  • The rhino's horn is used in Asia as a medicinal ingredient and ounce for ounce costs more than gold.
  • The black rhinos prehensile upper lip helps it to grasp and eat vegetation
  • Black rhinos live 30-35 years in the wild, but 45 years or more in captivity. 
  • In 2011 the Western Black Rhino subspecies was declared extinct. 
  • The Black Rhino has two horns made of compressed keratin - basically hair and fingernail material. (Not medicine)

To date there are approximately 4,800 black rhinos left in the world. Thanks to conservation efforts the species is slowly coming back from the brink of extinction, but the black rhino is not out of the woods yet. Stand up for rhinos on September 22 - World Rhino Day - and spread the word that rhino horn is not medicine.

Find out what you can do to help save the black rhino by visiting these websites.

International Rhino Foundation
Saving Rhinos

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