Millions of years ago, rhinos roamed North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Five living species make up the current rhino family, which is a real family. Africa and Asia are home to these species. Poaching and habitat destruction are the two primary concerns for the rhino population.
Rhinos have a lengthy 15-16 month pregnancy period and live for around 30 to 40 years. Every 2-5 years, a female rhino will give birth to one calf. As a result, population growth is gradual.
To help preserve rhino populations, conservation efforts have been implemented. The worldwide commerce of rhino horn was also prohibited. Illegal hunting and trading, on the other hand, continue to this day, with negative consequences for rhinos.
What Are Rhinos?
One of the biggest land animals in Africa and Asia is the rhino. Perissodactyla is an odd-toed ungulate group. Horses and tapirs are two more ungulates that belong to this order.
The Rhinocerotidae family includes rhinos. It’s the only genus in the Rhinocerotoidea superfamily that hasn’t gone extinct. Paraceratheriidae, Amynodontidae, and Hyracodontidae were other rhinoceros family groupings before they went extinct.
As of 2022, there are only five rhinos species left alive. The following species are included:
- White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum)
- Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis)
- Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis)
- Rhinoceros sondaicus, also known as Javan rhinos
- Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
Two African rhino species, white and black rhinos, have numerous subspecies. Extinct or critically endangered subspecies exist. Since the early twentieth century, rhino populations have plummeted. The primary cause of wildlife endangerment is poaching and habitat destruction.
How Many Rhinos Are Left in the World Today?
Hundreds of thousands of rhinos formerly lived in Africa and Asia. Consequently, due to extensive poaching and rhino horn harvesting, population numbers have declined.
In Africa and Asia in 1900, there were around 500,000 rhinos. By 1970, the population had decreased to roughly 70,000 people. As of December 2021, there are around 26,272 rhinos left in the world.
Rhino populations have decreased by 3.7% over the period 2017-2021. The black rhino and Indian rhino, for example, are both slowly increasing populations. Only around a 5% yearly growth in population is expected. Depending on a variety of factors, this percentage may change.
The decline in rhino populations around the world has been influenced by a number of factors. Climate change, poaching, and habitat degradation or destruction are all examples of factors. Humans, on the other hand, are the rhinos’ major predators.
Sumatran Rhino – Remaining Population of ~30 individuals
Sumatran rhinos are endangered and their numbers are declining rapidly. One of the most endangered rhino species is thought to be them. Because they have two horns rather than one, they are often referred to as the two-horned rhino. The only two-horned rhino species in the world is Asian.
Several Indonesian islands were home to Sumatran rhinos. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma were among the countries where they were found.
The Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia and Way Kambas National Park are currently the only places where they may be found. A small portion of central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, is home to a small number of people.
Lowland and highland tropical woods are where they live. Their diverse diet of over 100 plant species is supported by their ideal habitat.
Poaching, droughts, logging, and wood harvesting are all threats to the Sumatran rhino. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there are roughly 30 Sumatran rhinos in existence.
Black Rhino – Remaining Population of ~3142 individuals
Savannas, shrublands, and deserts are home to black rhinos, an African rhino species. Southern and eastern Africa are where they’re most common. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia are among the nations where they live.
Black rhinos come in four different subspecies:
- Diceros bicornis minor, a southern-central black rhino.
- Diceros bicornis occidentalis, or South-western black rhinos
- Diceros bicornis longipes, also known as West African black rhinos
- Diceros bicornis michaeli, also known as eastern black rhinos.
In 2011, the western black rhino, often known as the West African black rhino, was declared extinct. As of January 2020, other black rhino populations are listed as endangered. It is one of the rhino populations that is beginning to exhibit symptoms of growth, with around 3,142 individuals.
White rhinos are larger than black rhinos, with two horns. Up to almost 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) can be found in male. They’re distinguished from white rhinos by their dark gray color and hooked lip. Their eating habits are linked to their hooked lips. They eat from tall bushes and trees, so they’re browsers.
White Rhino – Remaining Population of 10,080 individuals
The African rhino species white rhinos The southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) are two of the two white rhino subspecies. The southern white rhino subspecies, which lives in South Africa, is home to the majority of the white rhino population.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is home to just two northern white rhinos. Guards are on duty at the sanctuary 24 hours a day, constantly protecting them. In the wild, northern white rhinos are thought to be extinct.
In contrast to black rhinos, white rhinos are grazers. Their upper lip is squared, which helps them eat grasses more effectively. They’re Africa’s biggest land mammal. Individuals may weigh up to almost 8,000 pounds (3,628 kg).
In total, there are around 10,080 white rhinos. As of January 2020, they were listed as a near-threatened species.
Javan Rhino – Remaining Population of 76 individuals
Javan rhinos, like Sumatran rhinos, are one of the most endangered rhino species. The Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, Indonesia, is home to around 76 Javan rhinos.
According to the IUCN Red List, they are categorised as critically endangered. Yet, their population has remained consistent for the last several years.
Javan rhinos have the smallest range of all rhino species. Before their numbers diminished, they lived in portions of Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, they became extinct in 2011.
The upper lip of a Javan rhino is pointed. This has an impact on the way they eat online. Forested regions where they may eat high vegetation is where they prefer to live.
Greater One-Horned Rhino – Remaining Population of 3,700 individuals
Northern India and southern Nepal are home to bigger one-horned rhinos. Indian rhinos are another name for them. In India, the state of Assam is home to the vast majority of people. Grasslands, woodlands, and coastal wetlands are home to grazers. Before becoming extinct in these areas, they used to live in Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Rhinos from India aren’t endangered, but they are vulnerable. They are growing in number, with around 3,700 members now. Indian rhinos have been reintroduced to sections of the old range, with varying degrees of success.
In April 2021, two Indian rhinos will be relocated to Manas National Park as part of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 plan. In regions where they were reintroduced, a few people were relocated to assist boost the population.
In Assam, there are four protected areas where larger one-horned rhinos may be found:
- Pobitora Wildlife Reserve
- Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park
- Kaziranga National Park
- Manas National Park
Indian rhinos are one of the most gigantic rhino species, along with white rhinos. Adults may weigh up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg).
Are Rhinos Becoming Extinct?
Due to habitat destruction and poaching, several rhino species have already been declared extinct. Some, such as the northern black rhino, are extinct in the wild but are preserved in sanctuaries.
As of 2022, the only two species that have shown evidence of expanding their numbers are Indian rhinos and black rhinos. The rhino population in Java is thought to be consistent. The population of 76 people, however, is quite small.
Rhino populations are being helped to survive through conservation actions. Nevertheless, all rhino species are still threatened by poaching, trapping, and habitat destruction.
Why Are Rhinos Being Poached?
The extinction of rhinos and a population decline are primarily due to poaching. Illegally hunting, capturing, transporting, or killing wildlife is referred to as poaching. Rhino horns are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market due to their scarcity.
As the world rhino population continues to decline, demand for rhino horn and its price rise. Traditional Chinese medicinal uses for rhino horns have been discovered. They’re also used to signify wealth and status.
Keratin, a fibrous protein found in hair, hooves, horns, claws, and other tissues is used to make rhino horns. Amino acids make up keratin.
Rhino horns are seen to have healing properties in Chinese tradition. They’re utilized to relieve fever, typhoid, and headaches. Nonetheless, it seems that rhino horns have no medical advantages.
Rhino horns have been utilized as traditional Chinese medicine for nearly 2,000 years, despite the fact that there is no proof to substantiate these assertions. By eating rhino horn, it may be used as medicine. To eat it, the horn is shaved down to a fine powder and immersed in hot water.
The rhino horn’s association with wealth is another factor contributing to its popularity on the black market. Rhino horn owners are regarded as wealthy and successful.
The rhino horn is also claimed to be an aphrodisiac, which is less common. The fact that a rhino horn is perceived as valuable isn’t because of this erroneous idea. Some people, including people in Vietnam who use rhino horns as a symbol of wealth, have embraced the fallacy.
Does Poaching Still Occur Today?
Poaching continues to be a problem today. Poaching and other unlawful rhino horn trade activities are particularly harmful to South Africa. In South Africa, the rhino population in Kruger National Park is most at risk of poaching and trafficking. In the year 2021, almost 500 rhinos were killed.
Poaching and illegal commerce continue despite the fact that rhino parts are prohibited from international commerce. Because of the degree of criminality in the business, it’s regarded an organized crime. On the black market, rhino horns are highly valued. They are offered on the black market for prices up to $300,000 or more, depending on demand.
Since rhino poaching is a professionally planned crime, it is difficult for authorities to safeguard them. It is difficult to protect rhinos due to a lack of resources and money for enforcement.
Which Rhinos Have Already Gone Extinct?
Four rhino families used to exist. The only living rhino species belongs to the family Rhinocerotidae.
Once found throughout Asia and North America, the Amynodontidae family of hornless rhinos was a rhinoceros family. Around 40 million years ago, they first appeared in the mid-Eocene epoch. They survived until approximately 33.9 million years ago, when the Paleogene epoch came to an end.
In the Eocene Epoch, the family Hyracodontidae first appeared. Before going extinct, they roamed North America, Europe, and Asia for almost 22.3 million years.
The ancient rhinoceros families are linked by the rhinos of the Rhinocerotidae family. In 2011, the western black rhino subspecies was declared extinct. Western black rhinos were last seen in Cameroon in 2003, according to reports.
In 2018, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy lost its last male northern white rhino, Sudan. The last two female northern white rhino subspecies are both housed at the sanctuary. Some of the genetic material collected from Sudan will be used to help repopulate this subspecies, according to scientists.
Just 30 individuals of Sumatran rhinos remain, and their population is declining. They are in grave danger of extinction.
Rhino Conservation Efforts
In 1977, the international trade ban on rhinoceroses was placed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The southern white rhino was placed to Appendix II in 1994, although all species were listed in Appendix 1.
184 countries are involved in the CITES agreement. It oversees international wildlife trading regulations.
To maintain and increase the world rhino population, CITES recommended a number of actions to all parties. There were a variety of suggested activities:
- To deter unlawful rhino action, the government has adopted severe penalties.
- Pass legislation mandating thorough rhino poaching investigations.
- Increase law enforcement in areas where rhinos are threatened by poaching
- For legal trading, monitor all permits and certificates.
- Implementing management plans will require the use of all available resources and expertise.
In order to address unlawful rhinoceros trade concerns, a CITES Rhinoceros Enforcement Task Force was established in 2008. Rhino poaching has become a serious problem. It was thought that some of the events were well-planned.
Poaching, unlawful commerce, and smuggling of rhino horns were all investigated by a task force. It sought to identify and shut down the sources of its information.
Eswatini presented proposals at the CITES 18th Conference of the Parties to relax rhino horn trade restrictions. Several governments at CITES turned down the proposal.
Fundraising for rhino conservation initiatives has been achieved via grants and field operations by organizations like the International Rhino Foundation. Scientific study, habitat preservation, education, and anti-poaching are just a few of the conservation activities they engage in.
Rhino Fun Facts
White rhinos are one of the largest land mammal species.
The largest of all rhino species is African white rhinos. They’re the biggest rhino species in Asia, measuring somewhat bigger than the bigger one-horned rhino. White rhinos may grow to be over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and weigh up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg). Their head and body can grow to be up to 16 feet (5 meters) long.
People are the number one predator of rhinos.
Because of their enormous size, rhinos have few predators. In Asia, tigers prey on them, while in Africa, lions, leopards, and Nile crocodiles prey on them. These predators are most dangerous to baby rhinos.
These animals aren’t the rhino’s greatest danger, despite the fact that they prey on them. Due to poaching and habitat degradation, humans are the greatest rhino predators.
There’s a day dedicated to rhinos.
Every year on September 22, World Rhino Day is commemorated. It’s a day to raise awareness of the five rhino species that exist today. It shows how their populations have been helped through conservation efforts.
Rhinos are important to the ecosystems they live in.
Because of their beneficial impact on their ideal habitats, rhinos have been dubbed “ecosystem engineers.” As grazers, they help keep grasslands healthy. Other smaller herbivores are able to thrive as a result of this. They also assist with the spreading of seeds and fruits they consume.
How many rhinos are killed each year?
Each year, the number of rhinos killed may vary. In 2015, almost 1,500 African rhinos were poached, resulting in a spike in rhino killings. In the year 2021, there were almost 500 illegal rhino poaching incidents.
Around 11,000 rhinos have been poached in Africa between 2008 and 2021. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of rhinos killed in Africa each year averaged 846. Poached rhinos in Asia are not included in this number.
How many rhinos were there in 1900?
In 1900, there were 500,000 rhinos in Africa and Asia. The rhino population has decreased by more than 400,000 in less than a century as a result of human activity and climate change.
Are rhinos dinosaurs?
Rhinos aren’t dinosaurs, nor are they closely related animals. Rhinos are mammals, whereas dinosaurs are part of the archosaurs family of reptiles, which is a big group. They first arose in the Triassic epoch, some 251 million years ago. Only about 40 million years ago did the real rhino family, Rhinocerotidae, emerge.
Which animals went extinct in 2022?
In September 2021, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that 23 species be removed from the endangered and threatened wildlife and plants list. Bachman’s warbler, small Mariana fruit bat, and ivory-billed woodpecker were among the species identified.