Rhinos are an “umbrella” species, protecting them is crucial not only for local vegetation, but also critical for the survival of other species.
In general, rhinos are herbivores, but there are two types of rhinos in Africa: white and black. One might expect the adjectives of white and black to refer to the color of the rhino. There is a major difference between a black and a white rhino. Rhinos are all grey, but the shape of their mouths tells a difference between the two rhinos. The black rhino’s lip is pointed. It is the tool they use to pick fruit from branches and select leaves from twigs. The white rhino’s lip is flat and wide. It helps to graze on grasses. Black and White rhinos live in different habitats. The white rhino lives on the grassy plains of Africa.
Current Conservation Status
The African rhino’s current conservation status is endangered. According to the New York Times, they could face extinction by the year 2020. That’s five years away from our current time — just around the corner.
African Rhino’s Role in the Ecosystem
Rhinos are environmentally crucial. They are what is called an “umbrella” species. Also, just like elephants, they are keystone species. Rhinos make an impact on their environment, which means that if the Rhinos disappear, then certain plant communities may be changed, threatening other species in the process. Protecting rhinos helps to protect other species, such as elephants, buffalo, and other animals. Rhinos contribute to economic growth and sustainable development through the tourism industry. Having such development creates job opportunities and provides benefits to local communities. Basically, rhinos create diversity to these local communities.
How you can help to protect African Rhinos
There are different ways to help protect these rhinos.
- First, one can inform others about the conservation status of the rhinos.
- Second, help organizations by signing petitions to protect rhinos.
- Third, research organizations — either national or global — that specialize in conserving rhinos. [Update February 2019: Help Natalie protect her young rhinos and their wild family]
- Fourth, learn how to appreciate rhinos and their habitats.
- Lastly, use social media to spread the word about rhinos in general and their conservation status.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Monserrat Gomez
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