What caused the extinction of the white rhinoceros?


What is a white rhinoceros?

The white rhinoceros is the second largest mammal on earth, and its name comes from the Afrikaans language, a West Germanic language, and the word “wet” which means wide and refers to the mouth of the animal. The white rhinoceros is also known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, and it has a square upper lip. Almost hairless.

There are two genetically different subspecies, the southern and sexual white rhinos, and they are found in two different regions in Africa.As of March 2018, there are only two northern white rhinos left, both of which are females. They live in the Ol Pejeta Reserve in Kenya and are being bred. They are protected around the clock by armed guards. The imminent extinction is due to decades of rampant poaching for rhino horns.

The majority (98.8%) of southern white rhinos occur in just four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Southern white rhinos were thought to be extinct in the late 19th century, but in 1895 a small population of less than 100 individuals was discovered. in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

After more than a century of protection and management, it is now classified as Near Threatened and there are 19,600-21,000 animals found in protected areas and private game reserves, the only ones of the five rhino species that are not endangered.

The importance of the white rhinoceros

In almost all rhino conservation areas there are plants and other animals of value Rhino conservation helps protect other species Rhinos contribute to economic growth and sustainable development through the tourism industry , which creates jobs and provides tangible benefits to the local communities that live alongside them Along with a unicorn.

Reasons for the extinction of the white rhino 

The white rhino once roamed much of sub-Saharan Africa, but today it is threatened with extinction. Among the reasons for the extinction of the white rhino :

  • Poaching fueled by these commercial uses.
  • Other reasons were agriculture and settlements.

Historically, uncontrolled hunting in the colonial era caused a significant decline in white rhinos, and today poaching for their horn is the main threat. White rhinos are particularly vulnerable to poaching because they are relatively non-aggressive and live in herds. Many organizations are working on Protect this beloved animal.

The life cycle of a white rhino 

White rhinos have complex social structures, groups of 14 rhinos may sometimes form, particularly females with calves.

Adult males defend territories of about 1-3 km2, which they define with firmly broken dung heaps, the home range of an adult female can be more than seven times greater, depending on habitat quality and population density.

Breeding females are prohibited from leaving the dominant male's territory, which is marked and managed by its owner on a regular basis, and males competing for a female may engage in dangerous conflict, using their horns and massive size to inflict wounds.

Females reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age but do not reproduce until they are 6-7 years old, males tend not to mate until they are 10-12 years old , and can live up to 40 years.

Mating occurs throughout the year, although peaks are observed from October to December in South Africa and February to June in East Africa, and the gestation period is about 16 months with an interval of 2-3 years between calves.

The white rhino is the only grazer among the five rhino species, feeding almost exclusively on short grass, and inhabiting primarily grassy savannas and woodlands interspersed with grassy expanses.

Families tend to avoid the heat during the day, when they rest in the shade. They are usually active in the early morning , late afternoon and evening. During periods of extreme heat, they cool themselves and get rid of ectoparasites by bathing in the mud in shallow pools.

Where does the white rhino live?

The white rhino lives on the grassy plains of Africa, and most of them live in four countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya.

The northern white rhino is a subspecies that lived in Uganda, Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, however numbers are declining dramatically, and there are very few northern white rhinos left.

White rhinos can be seen grazing in the grassy fields of the African savanna with other native animals such as elephants , zebras, leopards, and lions. Small trees dot vast stretches of grass, holding on for dear life in the sweltering African heat. Although it is dry most of the year, However, the savanna experiences heavy rainfall during the rainy season between May and November, during which time food is plentiful and many animals come to the grasslands to reap the benefits. 

Attempts to conserve the white rhino

The overwhelming success in rhino conservation is the story of the southern white rhino. The white rhinoceros nearly recovered from extinction with numbers as low as 50-100 remaining in the wild in the early 20th century. This subspecies of rhino has now increased to between 17,212 and 18,915, with the vast majority living in one country, South Africa

But the northern white rhino has only two females left, after the death of the last male, Sudan, in March 2018.

Facts about the white rhino 

  • The white rhinoceros is the second largest land mammal after the African elephant.
  • Male white rhinos can reach 1.8 m (5.9 ft) in length and weigh up to 2,500 kg (5,500 lb) that is the weight of 30 men.
  • Despite its large size, the white rhino can run at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph) for short periods.
  • These huge animals do not eat meat but are herbivores and feed mostly on grass.
  • White rhinos love to get muddy, the mud protects their skin from getting sunburned and also acts as an insect repellent.
  • Rhinos are mostly solitary animals, however white rhinos like to live in groups known as crashes. Rhino mom Thandi and Coleen and sister Thembi are often found together in a crash. This group often includes other females and their calves.
  • Female white rhinos are called cows and males are called bulls.
  • In South Africa at least one white rhino is illegally killed daily for its horn, in 2017 so far three rhinos are poached daily so their horns can be sold to buyers in Asia, rhino horn has no proven medicinal properties and cannot cure any illness.
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