A Critically Endangered Species: Rhinos
There was a time when rhinos roamed around many places on the Earth. They have been around for 40 million years – far longer than human beings. They still look prehistoric with their large horns and their thick armour-like skin. If you see one of these peaceful giants these days you look into the eyes of one of the most beautiful heritages of our planet.
These days may soon be gone. There were one million rhinos at the turn of the 19th century. This number unfortunately has declined dramatically in the last decades. 40 years ago there were only 70,000 of them. Nowadays these critically endangered animals fight for the survival and against extinction.
The Javan rhino, Sumatran rhino and Greater One-Horned (Indian) rhino
At present three of the five species of rhino are “critically endangered” (World Conservation Union). Critically endangered animals face an extremely high risk of extinction. The Javan and Sumatran rhino are critically endangered and the bigger one-horned (or Indian) rhino is classified as vulnerable. In 2011 a subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam.
The White and the Black Rhino
The two African species, the White rhino and the Black rhino, once were thought to be extinct but could be rescued in the last decades by successful conservation programs. The Southern White rhino was rescued due to the work of a few dedicated people around Dr. Ian Player and its rescue is now seen as one of the most successful conservation stories. Dr Player’s team has brought together the last 200 survivors of white rhinos and has been able to increase their population up to the count of 20,000 animals- the largest rhino population these days followed by 5000 Black rhinos. White rhinos are now classified as Near Threatened while black rhinos are still seen as critically endangered (a subspecies, the western black rhinos, were declared extinct in 2011). Another subspecies of the White rhino, the Northern White rhino, has only 5 captive individuals remaining in Kenya.