Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dylan shares his love of Southern White Rhinos through writing

Last spring Dylan was given a writing assignment in school and told that he had to write a paper about his favorite animal. He had to do research about his chosen animal and then write a seven paragraph paper, which he would read aloud to the class. I have never seen him so excited to write a school paper. 

He said other kids were writing about cats, dogs, bunnies, horses ... the usual stuff, but he was going to figure out a way to write about conservation. Yep, he saw an opportunity to bring awareness to the plight of the rhinos and he ran with it. 

Today I am sharing his paper with you in hopes that he can make one more person aware. 

Southern White Rhinos
by: Dylan Fryer

The White Rhino is one of the most beautiful animals in Africa. It is endangered. That means there are not many left in the wild. They are all dying because poachers are hunting them for their horns. The Southern White Rhino is the least endangered of the living rhino species. 

The scientific name for the Southern White Rhino is Ceratotherium simum. It means "horned wild beast with a flat nose" in Greek. White Rhinos are native to the African savannah. They are found in Botswana, Nambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

The Southern White Rhino is unique because of its two sharp horns. The front horn is about 40 inches, but can grow to 79 inches. The back horn can be 22 inches. Their horns are made of keratin. Poachers think the horns have medicinal value, but they do not. Rhino horn is not medicine. It is keratin, just like our fingernails and hair. 

The White Rhino is a grazer. It is identified by its square lip. White Rhinos feed mostly on short grasses and like to wallow in the mud. Like all rhinos they are ungulates, which is a hooved animal. They have excellent hearing and good sense of smell, but very bad eye sight. 

Next to the elephant, the White Rhino is the largest land mammal. Male White Rhinos weigh up to 4,400 lbs. to 7,920 lbs. and females weigh up to 3.080 lbs. to 3,740 lbs. White Rhinos can grow up to 11-14 feet long and 5-6 feet high at shoulder height. Even though White Rhinos are big, they can run at 30 m.p.h. for short distances. That is an impressive animal.

White Rhinos can live up to 50 years. With a lifespan like that people think that there would be a lot of them left. There's actually not many because over the past three years poachers have killed an average of two rhinos a day. With a gestation period of sixteen months, they will never catch up. This is why rhino conservation is important. 

Not many people know that Southern White Rhinos are endangered. In 1895 the Southern White Rhino was thought to be extinct until a small population was discovered. Now there are 20,600 Southern White Rhinos left. That's the power of rhino conservation! 

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