Both the Black and White rhino species in Africa are in jeopardy of becoming extinct. Poaching and habitat loss are just some of the threats they face.
Africa is home to two different species of rhinos: the Black rhino, and the White rhino. The Black rhino is considered critically endangered, and one of it´s four sub-species is extinct. As of 2010, there were approximately 4,880 black rhinos. The White rhino is considered Near Threatened, with approximately 20,170 individuals in the wild as of 2010, but the Northern sub-species is critically endangered.
There are several threats to the survival of African rhinos:
Privately owned rhino conservancies are being invaded, which contributes to habitat loss, and makes rhinos more vulnerable to poaching.
The fact that rhinos often live in habitats where there is civil unrest and war means that there is limited funding in those countries to help protect them.
Poaching for the international rhino horn trade is by far the main problem. Although the international rhino horn trade has been illegal under CITES since 1977, demand remains high because of its use in Asian traditional medicine due to its supposed healing properties (although it has been scientifically proven that only extremely large amounts of rhino horn produce any effect) and its use as an ornament. The proposed solution is to legalize rhino horn trade and surgically remove the horns without killing the animal. It was proposed with the intention of reducing poaching by increasing the supply for such a high demand. However, rhinos rely on their horn for protection, and once it is removed, the injury that is produced can lead to complications and be fatal. Also, we must keep in mind that legalizing it would make things so much easier for poachers.
A more effective approach might be to reduce demand in Asia by educating the public on the scientific evidence that shows that rhino horns do not possess healing properties.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Alba Lawrenson