Why are the White Rhinoceros on the Extinction List?

Photo Courtesy of: SanDiegoZoo.org

Photo Courtesy of: SanDiegoZoo.org

The White Rhinoceros (Rhino) is one of the rarest animal on the planet there are only three left on the planet today.  It has been on the endangered list since September 12, 2013.  The White Rhinos are the rarest animal in the world and it is unable to breed, and with only males left so it is impossible for them to breed, according to africageographic.com.

The White Rhino is on the endangered list because of people hunt them for their horns; which are supposed to possess medical healing properties.  The population of the White Rhinos were about 18,000 white Rhinos before they were being hunted.

They are under very strict protection.  If a poacher is caught killing one they could spend up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000, according toTakepart.com. “The only way to save the White Rhinos is to save the environment in which it lives,” stated David Attenboroug, naturalist and award winning producer ofPlanet Earth.

Uncontrolled hunting in the colonial era was historically the major factor in the decline of white rhinos. Today, poaching for the illegal trade in their horns is the major threat, according to takepart.com.

Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine as a supposed cure for a range of illnesses – from hangovers to fevers and even cancer.

The recent surge has been primarily driven by the demand for horn by upper-middle class citizens in Vietnam.  As well as its use in medicine, rhino horn is bought and consumed purely as a symbol of wealth.

Hundreds of white rhinos have been killed annually in recent years. They are particularly vulnerable to hunting, because they are relatively  not aggressive and occurs in herds.

The White Rhinoceros or square-lipped rhinoceros is the largest extant species of rhinoceros. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all rhino species. The average White Rhino can grow up to 2 meters tall and it can weigh up to 2 tons.  The White Rhinos are herbivorous they mostly eat grass and leaves. Their horns are not for hunting it is for defending against enemies, according tonationalgeographic.com. The White Rhino’s live primarily in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya.

White rhinos have complex social structures. Groups of sometimes 14 rhinos may form, notably females with calves. Adult males defend territories of roughly 1-3km2, which they mark with vigorously scraped dung piles. The home range for adult females can be more than seven times larger, depending on habitat quality and population density, according to nationalgeographic.com.

Breeding females are prevented from leaving a dominant male’s territory, which is marked and patrolled by its owner on a regular basis. Males competing for a female may engage in serious conflict, using their horns and massive size to inflict wounds, according to takepart.com.

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

Mating occurs throughout the year, although peaks have been observed from October to December in South Africa and from February to June in East Africa. The gestation period is approximately 16 months with a period of 2-3 years between calves, according to africageogrhic.com.

White rhinos are the only grazer among the five rhino species, feeding almost exclusively on short grasses. They primarily inhabit grassy savanna and woodlands interspersed with grassy clearings.

The large animals 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 very hot periods, the cool and rid themselves of external parasites by bathing in mud in shallow pools.