Friday, January 28, 2011

Critically Endangered Black Rhinos

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), picture t...Image via WikipediaBy Gareth Westhead

The Black Rhino is one of Africa's most endangered animals and is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN meaning it is in real danger of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future. Also known as the hooked lipped rhino due to its hook like upper lip, this magnificent animal is found in eastern and southern areas of Africa.

The Black rhino is usually a solitary animal, only coming together to mate, although mothers with young may occasionally come together in small groups. These animals have very poor eyesight and this has led to them gaining a reputation for being highly aggressive. This reputation is somewhat unfair as the rhino doesn't usually attack in the same way as say a lion would. They attack more out of fear and panic, which is a state they often find themselves in due to their poor eyesight. Researchers have seen them charge at trees and even termite mounds, which highlights how easy it is to startle a black rhino into charging.

At the start of the 20th Century the black rhino was the most numerous of all the rhinos and estimates suggest they numbered several hundred thousand. However, ruthless hunting for prized rhino horn saw these numbers shrink rapidly down to an estimated 10,000 in the early 1980's. More recent reports from 2005 showed further decline, with numbers estimated to be as low as 2,500.

Rhino horn is made up of keratin, which is the same substance that makes up human hair and nails. However in China and other parts of Eastern Asia people believe it to have medicinal properties and so seek out rhino horn to use in traditional medicines. Scientists have found no evidence of these medicinal properties, but herbalists continue to use it claiming it can cure fevers and even revive people from comas.

In the Middle East Rhino horn is carved into ornate patterns for ceremonial jambiyas. During the 1970's there was a huge increase in demand for these daggers, which are traditionally worn as an accessory by all men above the age of 14. This increased demand contributed to the 96% reduction in Black rhino numbers during the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's.

Adopt a Black Rhino and help halt the decline in their numbers. Without sustained conservation this magnificent animal could become extinct within the next 50 years.

Article Source:
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment