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3 Rhino Species ‘Critically Endangered’: Here’s Why We Must Act

On World Rhino Day: With 3 of its species ‘critically endangered’, here’s why you should should care.

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(This story was first published on 22 September 2019. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Rhino Day.)

Video editors: Mohd Ibrahim and Sandeep Suman

Did you know that 100 years ago, the great Indian one-horned Rhino, or 'Rhinoceros unicornis', was at risk of extinction with less than 200 left in the world?

Thanks to the diligent conservation efforts of India and Nepal, the species has been saved from extinction over the years, and the numbers have risen to 3,580.

The one-horned rhino, however, is still listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Assam's Kaziranga National Park, which was established as a reserve for the last 10-20 Indian rhinos in 1905, is home to over 70 percent of the global population of this species.

The great one-horned Rhinoceroes.
The great one-horned Rhinoceroes.
(Photo: AP)
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Why are Rhinos Poached?

Habitat loss, degradation and poaching are the main threats posed at the rhinos. They are hunted down for their horns, despite a 50-year-old international trade ban since 1977.

It’s not just in India. Even in South Africa, the poaching of black and white rhinos has increased massive increase between 2004-2014. (*wwf.Panda.Org)
3 Rhino Species ‘Critically Endangered’: Here’s Why We Must Act
(Photo: WWF)

This surge is because of huge demand from Asia, especially China, for rhino horns. Ironically, the horn has no medicinal value at all.

A rhino horn is made up of Keratin, the same component as human nails and hair. Interestingly, their horns continue to grow for the rest of their lives.
A group of African Rhinos grazing.
A group of African Rhinos grazing.
(Photo: WWF)

3 Rhino Species Also ‘Critically Endangered’

There are five types of rhino species:

  1. Great one-horned Rhino (3,500+ left)
  2. Sumatran Rhino (Less than 80)
  3. Javan Rhino (65-58 left)
  4. Black Rhino (5,366 to 5,627 left)
  5. White Rhino (Southern) (17,212 to 18,915 left)

Because of the surge in market demand for rhino horns, today, three more rhino species (Javan Rhhino, Sumatran Rhino, Black Rhino) have been enlisted as 'critically endangered' under the IUCN red List.

Unfortunately, the last male Northern White Rhino, a 45-year-old named Sudan, died in March 2018 - euthanised after age-related complications.

There are only two females left in the world, but there may be hope. Scientists have successfully grown two new Northern White Rhino embryos using frozen sperm.

Hopefully, this will save the species from extinction.

Sudan, the last male Northern white Rhino.
Sudan, the last male Northern white Rhino.
(Photo: AP)
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Fascinating facts!

Here are some interesting facts about these huge mammals you will be surprised to know.

  1. Rhinos can grow over 6 feet tall more than 11 feet long and can easily weigh over 1,000 kgs.
  2. Rhinos have fantastic hearing and a great sense of smell, but terrible eyesight.
  3. Despite their enormous size, rhinos can run at a speed of nearly 64 km/hr.
  4. A group of rhinos is called a 'crash'.
Baby Rhino playing with its mother.
Baby Rhino playing with its mother.
(Photo: Twitter/Australia Zoo)

On 22 September, World Rhino Day let's spread the word about rhinos and save them from going extinct.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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