The last known rhinoceroses in Mozambique have been wiped out by poachers. It has emerged that this was made possible due to the fact that these poachers were working alongside the rangers that were tasked with protecting them.
Entries in rhino (5)
Nadav Ossendryver, a sixteen year old school boy from South Africa, has established a website that provides real-time updates on wildlife sightings in South Africa’s world famous Kruger National Park. Ossendryver’s websitie, Kruger Sightings, provides real-time sightings of animals in the park. The website began life as a blog, but after eight months now has over 18,000 global followers.
Photograph courtesy of Gemma73
After years of discussion, many conservationists are starting to believe that it is time to consider shifting conservation efforts away from some of the world’s better known species, such as the tiger and panda, in order to concentrate on others which have a greater chance of success.
A recent survey of nearly 600 scientists involved in wildlife protection found that over half agreed with the concept of species “triage”. Triage is a medical term used when limited resources are concentrated only on those individuals who can survive with some assistance. In terms of conservation the idea works on the basis that conservation efforts are focussed on particular animal and plants that can be saved at the expense of species that are too difficult or costly to preserve in the wild.
Up until now this highly controversial idea has been met with little consensus. The fact that it is now being taken seriously clearly suggests the scale of the extinction crisis facing the natural world in the coming century, and the need to make correct decisions on which animals conservation efforts should be focussed. Dr Murray Rudd, an environmental economist at York University, who carried out the study, stated “The challenge in conservation is to know what’s beyond help and what’s not.”
With money increasingly becoming a scarce commodity, many conservationists are questioning the value of spending millions of pounds on ‘celebrity’ species such as tigers or pandas which are less likely to survive. Instead, they argue that money may be better used on other animals that have an equally important role to play within ecosystems but are more likely to survive.
An aptly used example by Dr Rudd is the Canadian government. They poured millions of dollars into efforts to save the Atlantic salmon which has been overfished for decades. However the attempts to bring levels of salmon stock back to a sustainable level has been met with little success, therefore begging the question could the money have been better spent on other conservation projects?
Despite the idea of triage flourishing in the minds of many conservationists, there are still many that have rejected the idea on the ground that it is impossible and immoral. This is primarily due to the difficulty in making a judgement about one species at the expense of another, given the complexity of ecological interactions within ecosystems.
What is clear in the mind of every conservationist is that the extinction of species is happening and at an alarming rate. The number of poaching related casualties has been rocketing recently, particularly in rhino populations. Even today news was announced of the extinction of western black rhinos. Given the risk of large losses of biological diversity the discussion of contentious conservation options by scientists can perhaps be understood. What is imperative though is that a successful solution must be found in order to stop other species following in the footsteps of the western black rhino.
By Anthony Kubale
Many believe that we are now facing the worst rhino poaching crisis for decades, with techniques and methods used to hunt the powerful mammals becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, anti poaching awareness is reaching a new height as today is World Rhino Day! Demonstrations, marches, petitions and even skydives are being carried out in South Africa today, campaigning for more effort to be put into protecting the beautiful beasts. Awareness is also being raised in schools, with local children learning about rhino conservation and making posters to celebrate the day. If you want to help there are many rhino petition sites online, or you could get up close and personal with the rhinos on some of Frontier's South Africa wildlife expeditions.
To celebrate the day we have put together 10 top facts about rhinos:
1. The 5 living species of rhinos, from largest to smallest are the Indian (Greater Horned) Rhino, White Rhino, Black Rhino, Jarvan Rhino and finally the Sumatran Rhino.
2. There is an extinct and hornless species of rhino called Paraceratherium which was the largest land mammal to ever walk the earth weighing about 20 tonnes and growing up to 5.5 meters at the shoulder, although with its head raised it would be much taller.
3. Rhinos can live solitary lives, although black and white rhinos are often found in groups of mothers and calves. Somewhat fittingly, a group of rhinos is called a ‘crash’.
4. Rhino gestation can last up to 16 months, with the young calf being cared for by its mother until it is old enough to live independently at 4 years old.
5. Both the White and Black rhino are actually grey in colour, so the way to tell the difference is too look at their mouths. The black rhino has a triangular shaped mouth adapted best for browsing shrubs and bushes. The white rhino has a far wider and square shaped mouth which allows it to easily graze from the ground.
6. All rhino species are herbivorous with their diets consisting of vegetation such as leaves, grass and buds.
7. Rhinos are notoriously grumpy and aggressive; however they have managed to strike up a symbiotic relationship with their good friend the ox pecker. The small birds ride on the rhinos back and keeping them clear of ticks as they browse on vegetation.
8. Rhinos have bad eye sight, which is why it is best advised not to get to close to them as they may begin charging. They do however have very good hearing and smell, so it would be hard to go unnoticed if you did try to creep up on one.
9. The rhino’s horn is unusual in the animal world as it has no bone core, but is made only of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and nails. Unfortunately it is the rhino’s horn which makes it so attractive to poachers.
10. Of the world’s five Rhino species, the Black, Javan and Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with the Indian rhino listed as vulnerable. The horns of the rhinos are turned into dagger handles and used for medicinal purposes, which are not supported by science.
World Rhino Day hopes to raise global awareness on the plight of the rhino and ensure their protection for the future. So spread the news and let your friends know just how amazing rhinos are!
By Lizy Tinsley