Is Rhinoceros Extinct?
If you’re curious about the status of rhinos in the wild, you’ve come to the right place.
The Northern white rhino is no longer in existence, but the Southern black rhino population is thriving. Sadly, the Western black rhino isn’t so lucky.
You might be wondering what’s causing this drastic decline in the population. Well, the answer to this question isn’t so simple. It all comes down to how humans have been destroying their habitat.
This article explores some of the threats rhinoceros face, and how to protect them.
Northern white rhinos are extinct
The population of the northern white rhino was around 2,360 in the 1960s. But widespread poaching and civil wars wiped out nearly 90% of the population.
By the 1990s, only 15 Northern white rhinos were left in the Garamba National Park in the DRC.
Only after joint international rescue action and strict protection did the rhino population begin to increase again. The population then stabilized at about 30 in 1994. In July 2003, the population was estimated to be only about 200.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, have discovered that the northern white rhinos contain stem cells that can turn into other animal cell types.
By triggering these stem cells to produce gametes, researchers hope to be able to revive the species.
The scientists also hope to use this technique to revive other species of endangered animals. However, this method is not a fool-proof solution.
Southern white rhino population is thriving
A consortium of research institutes has made it possible to successfully conceive a calf of the southern white rhino using northern white rhino embryos.
The consortium, called BioRescue, consists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, Safari Park Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
In July, the group announced that it had created 12 embryos from the northern white rhino’s eggs. This is a huge step forward for this endangered species, which is facing a dwindling population in its natural habitat.
While some scientists argue that these efforts have failed, others believe they are working. The conservation efforts have helped create a number of embryos from the skin cells of dead rhinos.
The research, known as “reproductive cell curing,” will allow scientists to help the long-term survival of the rhino population.
This research will also allow scientists to use genetic material from long-dead rhinos in their breeding programs. While this is expensive, it will help protect the southern white rhino from extinction and ensure that its population continues to grow.
Eastern-black rhinos are endangered
Despite recent progress in conservation efforts, eastern-black rhinos remain endangered. Illegal poaching remains the number one threat to rhinos in East Africa.
Fortunately, a concerted conservation effort in Kenya, which is home to 80% of eastern black rhinos, has stabilized or increased their numbers.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is one such conservation effort. The organization is a partner with the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority, and works to increase rhino populations in the park.
While adult male black rhinos are semi-social at waterholes, they are not particularly social. In general, they maintain a 3.9-4.7 km-wide territory.
Males tend to be dominant and younger individuals are subordinate, while females usually stay in the company of their latest calf.
Their poor eyesight prevents them from displaying their social skills in public, but they communicate with one another through scent-marking.
Western black rhinos are not so fortunate
The western black rhino is one of the last of the five subspecies of black rhinos. It was hunted to near extinction for its horns.
Despite its poor eyesight, this species had a remarkably good sense of smell and hearing.
Unfortunately, it’s not so fortunate in Cameroon. This African nation has faced many problems including corruption, unrest, and currency devaluation.
There are many ways to protect these animals, but sadly, the biggest problem is poaching. The western black rhino is more valuable when dead than alive.
A kilogram of horn can fetch $100,000. It is also valued as a symbol of wealth, and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.
It has been used to treat rheumatism and fever, and Vietnamese and Yemeni people have even used it as a material to make ceremonial knife handles.
Value of rhino horn on the black market
The value of rhino horn on the black market is astronomical. One kilogram of rhino horn can sell for more than US$400,000.
The horns, which are mainly found in Asia, can weigh from one to three kilograms each. Its use is primarily for traditional medicine, with the horn said to relieve hangovers, cleanse the body, and alleviate high fever.
It is also often supplied to the art and antiques trade in China, which can fetch several hundred dollars per kilogram.
While it is illegal to trade rhino horn, its value on the black market is astronomical.
Many journalists, particularly in the quality press, often quote this figure in their articles.
As a result, many journalists fail to mention that the value of rhino horn is only worth $100,000 USD per kilogram. This is far more expensive than the price of platinum.
Nevertheless, this value is often quoted in articles about rhino poaching.
Threats to rhinoceros
Despite their charisma and dazzling beauty, the rhinoceros faces numerous threats. The dwindling budgets of range-state governments have a negative impact on conservation efforts.
Furthermore, rhinoceros are increasingly vulnerable to poaching by well-armed gangs.
Insufficient funding for conservation law enforcement agencies has increased rhino poaching threats.
One of the major threats to rhinoceros is habitat loss and extensive poaching, which began in the early 1800s.
Seismic activity on Java threatens the Rhinoceros sondaicus population. However, the Asian Rhino Specialist Group has established a plan to increase its population, including relocation of individuals.
Natural reproduction has not been studied in the Viet Nam population, so the remaining individuals may be the same sex or too old to reproduce.
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