by Talia Gerard, President
White Rhinos, the largest of all rhinos, are daunting, cute, and unfortunately very close to extinction. These animals are the second largest land mammal, and are found in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya. The primary reasons for their near extinction are poaching and habitat loss. These animals are not aggressive and usually travel in herds, making them an easier target for hunters.
Why they are important: The White Rhinoceros is considered a keystone species for the African grasslands ecosystem. This means that without the White Rhino, the grassland ecosystem could collapse. This is because the large herbivore primarily eats short grasses, which allows tall, habitat-creating grasses to flourish. Also, White Rhino spottings are a major draw for safari goers and wildlife tourists, which helps the African economy and creates sustainable jobs.
What is the problem: There are two White Rhino subspecies that are genetically distinct and they are found in two different regions in Africa. While the Southern White Rhino has a healthy population due to conservation efforts, the Northern White Rhino has not been so lucky. There are currently only four Northern White Rhinos left in the wild. The advanced age of those remaining makes extinction appear probable.
Why they are going extinct: The problem is not only their exposure to poachers, but also their habitat loss. Humans are taking over their natural habitat, making it hard for the Rhinos to survive and adapt. However, the major problem is the poaching of these animals. To add to the worries of the White Rhino, the effort to save these animals is currently being put on hold due to the ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
How we can help: White Rhinos are important for the health of the African Grasslands ecosystem. Here are some ways to help:
- Stop buying rhino horn products. Currently the trade of rhino horn is illegal, but it is still a continuing problem that threatens the livelihood of these animals.
- Donate money in order to help fund anti-poaching equipment and rangers across Africa.
Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.