Fate of the
|In Africa today, the fight for growth of the rhino population is
an everyday activity.
After being declared an endangered species, Kenya has put up big efforts financially to see to it that their habitats have been safe guarded. As one of the ‘Big five’ the rhino is one of the most sought after animals on a Kenya safari.
The history of the rhino can be traced back to 45 million years ago. The Baluchitherium, an ancestor of the Indian rhino, was the largest land mammal that ever lived. It was 18 feet high and 36 feet long. It lived over 20 million years ago. Fortunately, the rhino is on its way back, thanks to the efforts of well wishers and volunteers.
Is Your Insurance
The problem of the rhino has been its beauty, the horn. It is made of keratin, a substance found in human hair and nails. Powdered Rhino horn has been used extensively in traditional medicine in Asia and to make ornamental dagger handles in the Yemen. The demand is so great that traders are prepared to pay poachers vast sums to kill rhinos for their horns.
Because of these, Rhinos have faced wholesale slaughter. To stop these abuse governments and bodies such as Save the Rhino teamed up together to halt the abusive. Thanks to them, the overall decline of the rhino has been halted, and populations in Africa are beginning to stabilize.
A CLOSER LOOK.....
The rhino belongs to the family Rhinoceroteridae. They are 5 species placed in 4 genera.
Three of these species are found in south-central Asia and the other two live in Africa south of the Sahara. Rhinos inhabit savannahs, shrubby regions and dense forests.
The African species live in more open areas than do the Asian species.
Their habitat has to generally have access to water. They usually drink everyday.
Their horns are dermal growths originally composed of compressed keratin. Usually they have 1-2 horns. Both hind and forefeet have 3 digits with a small hoof. They are known to have poor eye sight but strong hearing and smell. The tough and wrinkled skin has very few scattered hairs. The tail ends with stiff bristles.
Female rhinos give birth every 2 years to a single calf, which is active soon after birth.
The calf remains with the mother until the next offspring is born.
Gestation is 420-570 days. Sexual maturity is reached at 7-10 years for bulls and 4-6 years for cows.They a life span of up to 50 years.
Note that the African rhinos are more aggressive than Asian species.
They use their horns to attack and toss their enemies.
This can be especially dangerous and can kill attackers instantly.
African white rhinos have a preference of feeding low to the open grounds whereas the black rhino usually browse on leaves and have a tendency to stay hidden.
They have been noted to be more active in the evening, through the night and in early morning, spending their days resting in heavy cover
Rhinos sleep in both standing and laying positions and love
to wallow in muddy pools and sandy riverbeds. They penetrate dense
thickets by shear force, often leaving behind a trail that other
animals later use. Rhinos run with a cumbersome motion, reaching top
speed at a canter. They can, however, attain speeds of up to 45 km
per hour for short distances. Basically the black rhino is
more solitary and territorial except for the mother-child unit.
Rhinos mark their territories with urine and by dropping their dung in well-defined piles that can reach up to 1 m in height. They often furrow the areas around these piles with their horns and make the piles even more conspicuous.
The black rhino has a wide vocal range and can possibly
communicate like an elephant, through frequencies below the range of
human hearing. Breathing is an important part of communication.
There were an estimated 20,000 black rhino in Kenya in the 1970s.
About the author: Peter Philip is the operator of Natural Track Safaris, a Kenya based nature safari company catering for family outdoor adventures, camping and overland safaris. For more safari information visit www.natural-track.com
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