Rhinos Are Being Hunted to Extinction It Needs to Stop

Head of a rhino in the Raffles Museum

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Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros belong to the Order Rhinocerotidae and are often referred to by their abbreviated title of rhino. They are classed by zoologists as being odd toed ungulates. { Ungulates are groups of animals, most of which use the tips of their toes {usually hoofed} to sustain the weight of their body whilst walking, animals such as giraffes, sheep, goats,pigs, zebras, camel and hippopotamus.}

The name rhinoceros derives from the Greek, rhinos meaning a nose+keras meaning a horn.

Characteristics of the rhinoceros

Rhinos' are stout, of somewhat bulky proportions, distinguished by a rather elongated head, of which, the lower nasal part supports the horn or two horns standing one behind the other. The neck is short and thick. The mouth in relation to the size of the head is small, the upper lip is drawn out at its center into a gradually tapering appendage. The lower lip is slightly rounded, or else it is extremely has a flattened, 'chopped off' appearance.

The eyes are remarkably small the ears rather large and rounded on their outer margins. The rotund body, covered with a tough, armour-like skin, almost entirely, or at least for the greater part, devoid of hairy overgrowth. The short tail and short, but by no means clumsy legs, the feet of both front and hind pair having each three hoofed toes.

The buttocks are slightly higher than the shoulders. The abdomen is paunchy. The short tail is either much compressed laterally towards its extremity, in which case its width from root to tip is nearly uniform or else it is long and tapering. The legs down to the ankle joints, crook inwards, but below that are straight. The feet broaden out equally on all sides down to the soles, which are often ovoid shape. Of the three toes on each foot the width of the middle one to nearly that of the others.

The skin is very thick, and in most species of the family and is almost armour-like in its toughness. It either envelopes the body snugly, with the exception of a few folds, or it is divided into several distinct shields separated by furrows.

deep wrinkles surround the eyes and mouth. The lips may look clumsy but they are flexible and efficient for the purpose of grasping as they graze. The horns, which have their foundations in the skin { they are really developments of the superficial skin} are composed of very fine round or angular fibers of horny tissue forming hollow cones. Their broad round bases are anchored to the skin which covers the nasal part of the face.

Flower's classification.

The naturalist Flowers in the year 1876, subjected the family to a new revision. he recognised three main groups of the family, arranged in accordance with their dentition and the folds of the skin.

The first group comprised all the species, the skin of which is divided into 'shields'. The second embrace those, the skin of which show less folds. The third group has skin that does not exhibit any permanent folds.

A Glimpse at the Species.

One horn and well developed folds on the neck and loins, which bound the 'coat of mail', formed by the skin and surround shield-like areas, characterize the shielded rhino's. Rhinoceros is represented by two living species.

The Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, is also referred to as the Greater one horned or Asian one horned rhinoceros. It is a sturdy, strongly built animal and may be distinguished from its relatives by its comparitively short, broad thick head, and the character of the margins of the shields which is peculiar to the species.

There are only an estimated 3000 left in the wild. They are classed by the IUCN as being vulnerable.

Javan rhinoceros, Rhinoceros sondaicus. This species has a single horn and deeply folded skin that resembles armour plating. Like other rhinos this species eats a lot of plants and spends most of its time wallowing in pools of mud to keep cool.

There are two subspecies one in Vietnam and one in Java. There are 40-50 individuals in Indonesia living in Java's Ujung Kulon National Park. In Vietnam there are fewer than five. Both populations have declined drastically through poaching { after their horns} and as a result of habitat loss. They are very similar in appearance to the Indian rhino. The grey hardened skin is deeply folded. The upper lip is pointed and prehensile used to grasp food. Males have a single horn 25 cm long, those of the female are smaller or absent.

Hunting scene Javan rhinoceros

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The Sumatran rhinoceros.

The Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis is the smallest of the family Rhinocerotidae and the only member of the genus Dicerorhinus and are classed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

There are only six viable populations in the wild, of these four are on the Isalnd of Sumatra, one in Borneo and one on the Malay Pennisular. It is estimated that the total number remaining is around 200. Once again the ruinous factor is poaching for their horns, which procure large amounts of money on the black market.

Sumatran rhinos.

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The black and white rhinos

The two species do not take their common names from their colour. They are in fact distinguished by the shape of their lip. The black rhino has a prehensile {grasping} upper lip, which is used to grasp plant material for the mouth. The top lip sticks out a little further than the lower one.

Black rhino, Diceros bicornis, is also known as the Hooked lipped rhino. the colour of this animal varies from brown to grey. This two horned rhino has a reputation for being very unpredictable and dangerous and consequently suffered more persecution than other rhino species. The horns are long the longest attaining the length of 50cm . They are a typical browsing species.

There has been a 96% decrease between 1970-1992. The main population of black rhinos now inhabit reserves in South Africa, Nambia,Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya.

The estimated population is now 3,160 surviving in the wild. There was an estimated 65,000 animals in 1970. During the 1970s there was a huge demand for rhino horns from Yemen, which were used to produce handles for daggers which were worn as a symbol status by the wealthy.

Rhino horns are still being imported illegally to Asia for use in traditional medicine. Currently almost all rhino deaths occur through poaching. Although numbers are increasing very slowly poaching is a great threat.

Black rhinos

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Poaching-Press release from the International Rhino Foundation

November 12-2012--A Forty Year Prison Sentence for Rhino Horn Trader.----The Thai national was in command of an important rhinoceros horn traffic's network. In favour of the Asian Empirical Medicinal and Economic Benefits.

He was found guilty by the Johannesburg Court of Illegal license hunting and horns exportation. About 26 horns were discovered heading towards the Asian black market. This strong sentence was meant to send an even stronger message to the poachers in general.

White rhino

The white rhino Ceratotherium simum is a more social rhino. The common name derives from the fact that the Dutch word 'wijd' which meant wide was mis- translated into English as white. The word wijd referred to the wide mouth, which gave the animal the alternative name of the Squared lipped rhino.

There are two subspecies these are the Northern White Rhino Ceratotherium simum cottoni. the population of this species was reduced, by poachers, from 500 animals to just 15 individuals in the 1970s-1980s. A survey taken in 2000, revealed around 30 animals. However, a survey undertaken in 2003 revealed that poaching had once again reduced the numbers to between 5-10 individuals. They are Classed as being Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

The southern white rhino Ceratotherium simum simum has an estimated population of 17,100 -17,700 individuals.

White Rhinos

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Conservation updates more sad news November 2014

Another sad blow was dealt by the sudden death of Suni, a male Northern White Rhino,at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Suni's, passing means that there are only SIX Northern White Rhino's left in the world. Suni was 34 years old.

" Consequently this species now stands on the brink of complete extinction,a sorry testament to the Human race" wrote the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Suni was not killed like so many others by poachers,but was found dead in his enclosure. An autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of his death. Suni,was the first Northern White Rhino to be born in captivity.

Northern White Rhino's was roamed portions of Uganda,Chad, South Sudan,The Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The history of this species has already been one of near misses.After the devastating Rhino poaching crisis of the 1980,s the wild population was reduced to just 15 animals. However, this population eventually doubled ,until Rhino poaching for their horns became rampant again in the mid-2000's. The last known Northern White's,in the wild, disappeared from Garamba National Park in the DCR in 2006. It is believed they were slaughtered by poachers.

Today there are only six left alive, two at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, one at Dvur Kralove Zoo, the only Zoo that has succeeded at breeding the animals,and three in semi-captive conditions at the Ol Pejata Park Conservancy in Kenya. The Conservancy said " we shall continue to work with the remaining three animals,in the hope that our efforts will one day there will be a White Rhino Calf born"

The Northern White Rhino are generally regarded as being a sub species of the White Rhino.However, a 2010 paper that the sub-species should be raised to species level,due to physical and genetic differences.The study has proven controversial and some conservationists suggest it might be better to breed the Northern White Rhinos with the southern sub species in order to preserve at least a proportion of their genetics.

White Rhino's are still the most numerous with an estimated 20,000 individuals.This makes them a target of poachers for their horns because of their abundance.

Source focusingonwildlife.com,from the original article written by Mongabay.com October 2014

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D.A.L. 3 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Efficient Admin,

Thank you for being the first to read and for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.


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Efficient Admin 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

The rhino is a very strange-looking and magnificant animal for sure. I don't think I'd want to come face to face with one. Very interesting and informative hub. Thanks for sharing.

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