Black Rhinos Going Endangered

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The paper discusses history of black rhinoceros and the reasons behind their endangerment in different parts of Southern Africa. Black rhinos and white rhinos both are actually gray, but can be differentiated through the shape of their lips. White rhinos have squared lips, while black rhinos have their upper lip in a pointed shape. Black rhinos are comparatively smaller than white rhinos. However, they still reach up to a height of 1.5 meters with a weight of 1.4 tones approximately (WWF, “Black rhino”). The scientific name of Black rhinoceros is Diceros bicornis and fall under the category of mammals. Black rhinos are herbivores and feeds on the diet containing buds, leaves, plants, bushes, and trees. Black Rhinos have two horns, of which the front one is prominent and grows up to nearly 5 feet with age. Moreover, black rhinos remain solitary and roll out their body in mud and relax after finding a suitable water hole. However, Black rhino are under the threat of getting endangered day-by-day (National Geographic Partners, “Black Rhinoceros”; NHS, “Black rhinoceros”). Hence, the key objective of the paper is to determine the history related to Black Rhinos and why they are getting endangered. Additionally, role of nations in protecting the species of rhinoceros along with the organizations engaged in the activities has also been accessed. 

HISTORY OF THE BLACK RHINOS

Black Rhinos were first found in the Sub-Saharan Africa, where Congo Basin was the only exception. They are normally solitary mammals, which were once huge in number and could be seen in dozens every day. However, European settler started relentless hunting them, which lead to a quick decline in their numbers. During the later parts of the 1960s, black rhinos started disappearing or had disappeared from majority of the nations, with the estimated count reducing to nearly 70000 within the African Continent (WWF, “Black rhino”).

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The current location of the existing species was distributed in a patchy way considering parts of Kenya to South Africa. Four key nations comprise 98% of the Black rhinos, which include South Africa, Namibia, Kenya as well as Zimbabwe. A total of three subspecies were evident after the extinct of black rhinos in the west-Africa, which was again identified during 2011. The subspecies present in today’s scenario has been discussed in the preceeding sections (WWF, “Black rhino”).

Southern-central black rhino. The species were once found in large numbers in the varied the parts of Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Southern Tanzania. Moreover, the mammals were reintroduced in Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and Swaziland as well (WWF, “Black rhino”).

South-western black rhino. Black rhinos, adapted to semi-arid as well as arid savannahs, were found in South Africa and Namibia (WWF, “Black rhino”).

East African black rhino. Mostly found in the parts of Kenya as well as smaller portions of Northern Tanzania (WWF, “Black rhino”).

REASONS BEHIND THEIR EXTINCT

In the early 1970s, black rhinos were knocked down by the poaching epidemic, which led to their complete extinction in areas outside that of conservation along with serious reductions considering the numbers visible in the national parks as well as reserves (WWF, “Black rhino”). Europeans hunters then started killing five to six rhinos each day for their amusement as well as food followed by the settlers, who arrives there during the 20th century for colonizing as well as establishing plantation farms in Africa. They slaughtered the Black Rhinos on a continuous basis, believing them to be a vermin, who would have destroyed their crops or farms, thereby exterminating the Rhinos by any cost (WWF, “Facts”).

It was recorded that in the period of 1970 to 1992, approximately 96% of the black rhinos were killed due to the poaching process (WWF, “Black rhino”). The key reason behind this poaching epidemic was the acquisition of rhinos’ horns. Black rhinos as mentioned earlier possess two horns along with an additional small horn, which is visible occasionally. Illegal trade takes place, where these horns are traded to other countries, thereby making rhinos fall under the prone zone of attack. Tanzania and Kenya were the first locations to identify the poaching wave, which continued in the southern part through Luangwa Valley as well as Zambezi River in Zambia, thereby spreading over Zimbabwe as well. Political Instability along with war greatly hampered the conservation work of Black rhinos in Africa in the parts of Angola, Somalia, Rwanda as well as Sudan. This national situation of Africa hence exacerbated threats of trading horns as well as increased poaching because of poverty (WWF, “Facts”). Moreover, changes in the habitat of black rhinos are also considered as the secondary reason for the decline in their population. Landless people of Southern parts of Zimbabwe also invaded the privately-owned conservatories for Rhinos. Therefore, the safe habitat for black rhinos gradually reduced with an increased risk of snaring along with poaching (WWF, “Facts”).

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In 1993, amount of black rhinos present was recorded to be 2475 only. In the existing world, black rhinos are still under the threat of critical endangerment due to rising demand for their horns, in turn, leading to illegal poaching at higher levels. Few Asian customers specifically from Vietnam are in continuous demand for rhino horns considering their folk remedies for illnesses. Increased poaching in South Africa has further threatened the conservation success. Moreover, during 2014, nearly 1215 black rhinos were killed in South Africa due to the poaching, which recorded an increase of 21% than in 2013 (WWF, “Facts”). However, after diverse efforts of successful conservation as well as anti-poaching efforts, the average number of Black rhinos has increased to nearly 5000 (WWF, “Black rhino”).

REASONS BEHIND POACHING

Poaching is considered as illegal or uncontrolled hunting process for the trading of the horns of all species of Rhinos, which is behind its declining numbers in the southern parts of Africa. These rhino horns are actually traded to the Asian countries such as Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Singapore, where it is primarily used for medicinal purposes. Traditional Asian medicine and Chinese medicine use rhino horns for illnesses ranging from hangovers, fevers, gout and rheumatism as well as in few cases of cancer (WWF, “Black rhino”; National Geographic Partners, “Black Rhinoceros”). Rhino horns are grounded or shaved into powder, which is dissolved in hot water for the treatment of above-mentioned illnesses in China, Vietnam as well as South Korea. Moreover, in Vietnam higher-class citizens order and purchase rhino horns for symbolizing their wealth. Alongside, the middle-east nations, as well as northern parts of Africa, show interests in illegal trading of black rhino horns for using it as a handle for ornamental daggers. Additionally, the researchers have calculated the net worth of one horn, which is £51000 per kilogram. An average horn weighs around 6.6 lbs, which stands to an approximate amount of £152000. However, the rate in 1993 was recorded to be nearly £3755 per kilogram. Hence, the rate of increase aligned with the demand of black rhino horns, which can easily be identified, thereby leading to poaching through criminal groups and to earn huge amount of money (Fernandes, Colin, “Black rhinos are left on the brink of extinction after an explosion in poaching caused by their horns selling for £75,000 each”).

ROLE OF COUNTRIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN PROTECTING BLACK RHINOS

Different countries in Africa are strategizing continuously for protecting the Rhinos and increasing their population distribution. Save the Rhino is trust organization of London, England, which supports diverse programs taking place in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Here, the key aspects are saving the rhino population in the critically endangered state, thereby building Rhino strategy for the nations. Additionally, Kenya came forward with Big Life Foundation, where rangers continuously worked to protect as well as monitor the endangered population of eastern black rhinos located in their Chyulu hills. Ol Jogi was also an effort of Kenya for saving the subspecies of black rhinos. Borana Conservancy was a newly made conservatory in Laikipia district of Kenya for all species of rhinos (Save the Rhino International, “Saving Rhinos”). Considering Tanzania, they built Mkomazi, where Black Rhino, as well as wild dogs of Africa breeding programs, were conducted along with hosting educational programs for local people. Zambia therefore came up with North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NCLP), where they protected the habitats as well as wildlife in North Luangwa National Park. Zimbabwe also indicated positive signs through Lowveld Rhino Trust, which played an essential role in supporting as well as monitoring White along with the Black Rhinos in Lowveld conservancies. Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia further took the responsibility of managing the existing Rhinos in their nation, where they came up with Save the Rhino Trust for protecting and monitoring Black Rhinos in the deserts of Kunene region of Namibia. Moreover, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) in South Africa manages the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park along with uMkhuze Game Reserve, which is its small portion, located in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) province (Save the Rhino International, “Saving Rhinos”). 

Moreover, African Wildlife Foundation is also engaged in the activities to protect the White as well as Black Rhinos from going extinct. Contextually, African Wildlife Foundation is familiar with the fact that organized crimes are victimizing the Black Rhinos along with habitat loss. Hence African Wildlife Foundation has tried their best in engaging the African public, facilitating the Rhinos with safe stay in sanctuary, recruiting scouts with wildlife experiences as well as those working with legal authorities. Moreover, they are continuously providing necessary training along with equipments to the recruited wildlife scouts and organizing campaigns leading to public-awareness on providing support to the wildlife authorities (AWF, “Rhinoceros”).

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Additionally, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Washington D.C., United States has been working since 1961 to rescue the Black Rhinos, specifically apart from other species, which helped their total number of 2410 in 1995 to grow to 4880 in 2010. WWF focuses on giving the effort to eliminate poaching with the increase in the population of black rhinos, thereby dealing with illegal trading of rhino horns and ensuring improvement in law enforcement. Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) was collaboratively established under a partnership between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, WWF and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism in 2003, which indicated a public-private partnership for providing joint effort on increasing the population of Black Rhino’s (WWF, “Facts”).

RATE OF DECLINE

Figure 1: Poaches in South Africa from 2007 to 2016

Source: (Save the Rhino International, “Poaching statistics”)

It is evident from the year 2007 to 2014 that the growth rate in South Africa has extended to 9000%. Majority of the illegal activities took place at Kruger National Park (19485 km2 in area), where rhinos are considered to be in their protected habitat in the eastern border of South Africa along with Mozambique. Kruger suffered heavy losses due to poaching consistently and therefore government, as well as international donors, raised additional resources and fund for securing it. In the year 2016, South Africa witnessed a fall in the poaching rate in consecutive years, which indicated the efforts on protection that had paid off. However, the fall in poaching levels was also found to be encouraging, but losses still occurred at an extensive level (Save the Rhino International, “Poaching statistics”). 

It was also reported that particularly in Kruger national park till August 2016 poaching cases resulted to 458 as compared to 557 of August 2015, which led to the 17.8% decline. Considering overall South Africa, Rhino amounting to 702 got poached in August 2016 compared to 796 till August 2015. The overall rate decreased was 15.5% in August 2016 as compared to the same period of January to August 2015, wherein 2014 it indicated only 9.6%. However, the rate of incursions was greatly increased at a rate of 27.87% from last year in period between January and August 2016 in the Kruger National Park. Apart from black Rhinos, 36 elephants have also been poached in the same Kruger National Park till August 2016. Moreover, nearly 414 poachers were arrested in South Africa with a total of 177 animals from Kruger National Park as well as 237 from other parts of the nation. 94 firearms were also seized during the investigation at Park (Pretorius, “Rhino poaching declines in SA in 2016”).

CONCLUSION

Black Rhinos play an important part in balancing the ecosystem through the consumption of large vegetation, which directly shapes the landscape of Africa. It was found that the poaching rates have declined in the last two years because of the continuous efforts of government authorities along with the organizations of different nations to stop the illegal trading of horns and protecting rhinos. However, it should be kept in mind that 97% of the rhinos have been killed since the 1960s till date and hence efforts should be continued to protect the critically endangered black rhinos of southern parts of Africa.

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  1. AWF. Rhinoceros. African Wildlife Foundation, n.d., http://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/rhinoceros, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  2. Fernandes, Colin. Black rhinos are left on the brink of extinction after an explosion in poaching caused by their horns selling for £75,000 each. Associated Newspaper Limited, 11 Aug. 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4205760/Black-rhinos-brink-extinction-poaching-grows.html, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  3. National Geographic Partners. Black Rhinoceros. African Rhinos, 2017, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/b/black-rhinoceros/, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  4. NHS. Black rhinoceros. Los Angeles County, n.d., https://nhm.org/site/explore-exhibits/permanent-exhibits/african-mammals/black-rhinoceros, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  5. Pretorius, Wim. Rhino poaching declines in SA in 2016. News24, 11 Aug. 2017, http://www.news24.com/Green/News/rhino-poaching-declines-in-sa-in-2016-20160911, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  6. Save the Rhino International. Poaching statistics. Rhino Info, 2017, https://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/poaching_statistics, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  7. Save the Rhino International. Saving Rhinos. What We Do, 2017, https://www.savetherhino.org/strategy_1, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  8. WWF. Black rhino. African Rhinos, 2017, http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/rhinoceros/african_rhinos/black_rhinoceros/, Accessed 11 October 2017.
  9. WWF. Facts. Black Rhino, 2017, https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/black-rhino, Accessed 11 October 2017.
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