“The Black Rhino” Not Really Black

“What do a Rhino, a child suffering from a fever in China and a rich man in Yemen have in common? “

To find the answer you will have to either learn about the Black Rhinoceros (meaning read my blog) or scroll all the way down 🙂

Well now you know our weekly earthling for this week is a Rhino! When I heard the Rhino we have at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) I wondered why it did not look Black to me! Then I learned Black was not the color of the rhino but was given to distinguish it from the “White” rhino which incidentally is not white (Funny Humans!!) but was derived from the Dutch word for “wide”! So Black and White Rhinos really can’t be distinguished by the color of their skin (as both look pretty much Grey!!) but by the upper lip; it is prehensile and pointed in the Black Rhino while it is wide in the white rhino.

The Black Rhino is a critically endangered species as a result of Poaching and habitat fragmentation. Relentless hunting of the species and clearances of land for settlement and agriculture resulted in the population being reduced from a probable several hundred thousand at the start of the century, to less than 2,500 by the early 1990s (the minimum population estimate in 1995 was approximately 2,410 (Emslie and Brooks 1999). Historically they were found all over Africa; South of the Sahara except the Congo Basin, from grass lands to deserts, tropical and subtropical. Now their range has been fragmented to Cameroon Kenya and South Africa.

Black Rhinos are herbivores and are solitary except during mating season, with a gestation period of 15 months and the female giving birth to a solitary calf. Offspring are weaned after 18months and are dependent on the mother for up to 4years! They generally stay within 25kilometers from a water source. Dominant males are extremely territorial and will fight any intruder. They are more active during the mornings and evenings and rest during mid day when it is really hot.

Lifespan is between 30-35 years in the wild and they live to be above 45 in captivity. They weigh between 1750 to 3000 pounds! They have 2 horns with the front one being longer. The Rhino skin is 1.5 to 2 centimeters thick and wallowing in mud helps protect them from insects and the sun!

Some Interesting Rhino facts:

  • Rhinos inhabited not just Africa and Asia but Europe and North America as well! No one knows why they disappeared from North America.
  • At present there are 5 species of Rhinos in the world; The Black, White, Indian, Javan and Sumatran.
  • All together they number around 24,000 in the wild with 1200 in captivity.
  • Throughout the 20th Century the Black Rhino was the most numerous of the world’s rhino species!
  • Their Numbers in the wild dropped by a whopping 90% in around 40 plus years!!
  • The Javan Rhinoceros is the most endangered large mammal species in the world!
  • The oldest Rhino in captivity was 49 years old.
  • Adult black rhinos defecate on dung piles as a means of communication, as it reveals to other rhinos how recently an individual was in a certain location.
  • Rhinos have poor eye sight (see up to 25-30 meters away) and rely on their sense of smell most.
  • Male rhinos do fight over territories and use their anterior horns in the fight very effectively.
  • Two countries have shown net increases in numbers of Black Rhino over the period 1980-2007: South Africa and Namibia, from estimated 630+300 in 1980 (Emslie and Brooks 1999) to 1,470 + 1,390, respectively in 2007 (AfRSG data 2008).
  • Rhino horn has two main consumers: traditional use in Chinese medicine, and ornamental use (for example, rhino horn is a highly prized material for making ornately carved handles for ceremonial daggers (Jambiyas) worn in some Middle East countries mostly Yemen).
  • About 90 percent of adult rhino deaths are caused by poaching.
  • Like the elephant, the rhino walks on its tip toes. The round heels of its feet are actually fatty tissue.
  • A rhino can run 25 to 30 mph for short distances.
  • In their native countries they are threatened because their horns are worth more than gold to the poachers.
  • The rhino’s horn is made of keratin the same stuff that makes up our hair and fingernails.
  • The black and white rhinoceros remain so closely related that they can still mate and successfully produce offspring.

What can be done to make sure that this beautiful species stays where it has for millions of years? We can support the organizations which are doing the needful to negate the issues plaguing these animals like The international Rhino Foundation or the IUCN OR you could go shopping follow this link to know how?

Another thing one can do is educating people to why some of the traditional believes are just not true and how there can be alternatives for those ways. May be sooner rather than later, people will awake to the plight of their fellow earthlings; who I believe have an equal right to live on this planet as we do.

Live Green!

An Indian Rhino who lost its horns to poachers.. what a shame… 

 

Sources:

The IUCN Red Data List For the map and info

The Wikipedia for the awesome Picture

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium my favorite zoo 🙂

The Rhino Resource Center

Answer to the Riddle : Must be evident by now if not here it goes

They all think that the horn of the rhino is very valuable. To the rhino, it is very valuable because it uses its horn to defend itself and to fight other males when looking for a mate. Its sharp horn is a pretty dangerous weapon, and, if it breaks off, it will grow back. For the Child in China it could be part of a traditional medicine for fever( horn proven not to be medicinal) and the man in Yemen thinks the Rhino’s horn adds to his status on the handle of his dagger (Jambiya).”

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