Is the black rhino on the verge of extinction? | Tunde Folawiyo

March 28, 2014 Editor Tunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo executivetunde folawiyo film festivaltunde folawiyo oiltunde folawiyo profile

The black rhino is classified as being critically endangered, with over 97% of this species’ population having been wiped out over the course of the last 54 years. As a conservation enthusiast, this is something which Tunde Folawiyo will most likely find quite worrying.

Most of the remaining black rhinos can be found in grasslands, although there are a small number residing in the forested areas of Kenya as well. There are several reasons for the rapid decline of this species. Poaching is one of the most serious threats; from the 19th century onwards, this species was hunted relentlessly, by those hoping to profit from the sale of its meat and its horns. By 1970, there were just 65,000 black rhinos left; today, there are less than 5,500.

Tunde Folawiyo

The horns of this animal are frequently used as an ingredient in Chinese medicine, and for the production of ornamental daggers.  There is a particularly great demand for this ‘product’ in Asia and the Middle East- a fact which poachers in Africa are very much aware of. As a result, the smuggling of black rhino horns from Africa to these other parts of the world is unfortunately very common.

As this species is one of the most ancient mammal groups in existence (rhinos are often referred to as ‘living fossils’), its extinction would be a terrible loss for the world. Additionally, black rhinos play a key role in the maintenance of habitats; the areas of land which they ‘claim’ as their homes are also used by other African animals, including elephants and zebras.

If this rhino species were to become extinct, this could potentially threaten the lives of other creatures. Moreover, the rhinos which are kept in national parks across the continent attract millions of tourists each year, and are therefore a significant source of income for the eco-tourist industry.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Those who, like Tunde Folawiyo, take an interest in conservation projects, will be pleased to hear that, due to the tireless efforts of several conservation groups, the numbers of black rhinos have gradually begun to rise, although the species is still on the IUCN’s Red List. New legislation has been put in place to reduce, and in some cases, completely eliminate the trading of black rhino horns. The WWF has gone to great lengths to improve the management of protected areas in which these animals reside, and has collaborated with both national and international law enforcement agencies, in order to end the sale of rhino horn.

AfricaAfrica’s Endangered Wildlifeblack rhino horns smugglingblack rhino poachingBlack rhinoceroscritically endangered black rhinoIUCN's Red Listrhino species extinctionTunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo biotunde folawiyo executivetunde folawiyo profile

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