Despite the fact that scientists are now trying to do everything to save endangered species of animals, the most unusual representatives of unique creatures disappear every year. Thus, humanity lost a unique giant, and today - in 2013 - we can safely say that the black rhino is extinct. For several decades, they tried to preserve this species, but poachers and other criminals turned out to be more agile, and the extraordinary animal disappeared forever from the face of the Earth. The history of rhinos dates back hundreds of years, during which they peacefully existed in savannas and on green continents.
The black rhino appeared in Africa, and initially there were two species of this animal: white and black. It is noteworthy that the color of their skin is gray. The differences in their names depended on the places where the giants lived, more precisely, on the color and composition of the land. As you know, rhinos love to wallow in the mud, and, accordingly, the soil, which was more clay, gave the skin of the animal a white tint.
The black rhinoceros is a large animal whose weight reaches two tons, and its length was more than 3 meters (with a height of 1.5 meters). Despite the fact that we are accustomed to the fact that the wayward giant has only one horn on its head, in fact, African individuals usually had 2, and sometimes 5. The front horn was the largest, and its length sometimes reached half a meter. In the history there were individuals in which the main tusk reached a length of more than a meter. At the beginning of the 20th century there were a huge number of black rhinos, and they were the most common inhabitants of savanna. These amazing animals lived in central, eastern and southern parts of Africa.
Rhino lifestyle and behavior
Rhinos ate young shoots of shrubs, well tolerated the heat. Animals went to watering places very far, sometimes overcoming distances of 8-10 km. In its lifestyle black rhino, rather, was a loner.
The pregnancy of the female lasted about 15-16 months, and only one baby was born, which for several years fed on mother's milk.
Black rhinos spent the night where they were comfortable, because their huge size allowed them not to be afraid of anyone. Giants slept on the side or bending their legs under them. It used to be that animals mark a territory, leaving huge piles of manure. In fact, this happened spontaneously, for no reason at all. Black rhinos grazed both day and night - at any convenient time.
The only danger to the rhino was represented by lions, who sometimes attacked small cubs. But most often the predators suffered themselves, as in the fight, even with one rhino, there was little chance of winning. Rhinos, however, are very short-sighted and slow. This was against them when poachers attacked. Even being at a short distance from a person or a tree, animals could not recognize it. But the rhino rumor is well developed. Some hunters noted the ability of clumsy fat men to sense danger per kilometer and successfully escape.
A distinctive feature of the giants, of course, was considered their hot-tempered character. Being in a seemingly calm state, in a second the rhinoceros could go berserk and begin to rush at the workers of the zoo or nature reserve. Often there were cases when during their travels, tourists on safari encountered an aggressive-minded animal that literally turned their car over. Despite its slowness and clumsiness, the rhinoceros can reach speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour or more. So in a fair fight, he always wins. It is known that sometimes rhinos encounter elephants, and usually these "fights" end in death for one of the rivals. Most often, the reason for the dispute is the reluctance of one of the giants to give way to another. And, despite the fact that the elephant is significantly larger, his opponent always had a rather impressive weapon with him. As you know, the length of the horn of a black rhino was at least 0.5 meters, so it could cause serious injuries to a larger animal.
There were four subspecies of this individual.
South-Central Black Rhino
The habitat of this animal is from the central part of North Africa to the eastern part of South Africa. The greatest number of individuals could be found in the southern region. In fact, this subspecies still exists, but it is already listed in the Red Book, and its condition is currently assessed as critical.
East African Rhino
Historically, this subspecies was located on the territory of South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Now, some representatives of the East African rhino can be found in Kenya, but the number of individuals each year is reduced to a minimum, and now they are in critical condition.
West African Black Rhino
Recall that the African black rhino today has completely disappeared and officially declared extinct. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the number of this species was only a few individuals, and scientists to the last tried to save them. After research in 2006, specialists have not been able to detect a single representative of the West African black rhino. Therefore, in 2011, this subspecies was officially declared extinct.
What caused the rhinos to disappear?
First of all, this is all connected with the activity of poachers in Africa, who sell not only the meat and skin of these amazing animals, but actively hunt for their unique horns, the cost of which on the black market is a very impressive amount.
According to the comments of scientists, the main reason for the complete extinction of the black rhino and the potential for the extinction of the white is negligence on the part of the state to protect the giants in their habitats. Every year, more and more criminal gangs appear on the territory of Africa, which continue to exterminate the already few livestock of rhinos and other endangered species.
According to the latest research by biologists, at the moment white rhinos, also living in North Africa, are on the verge of extinction. If in the near future no measures are taken to preserve the population of these giants, then very soon these amazing animals will not be left in the world. The black rhinoceros (photos are presented in the article) is truly an unprecedented creation of nature, and it is regrettable that now it can only be seen in pictures.
No matter how sad, but today there are about 40 species of animals on our planet in critical condition or on the verge of extinction. If humanity continues mercilessly to exterminate the amazing representatives of nature, then soon they simply will not remain. Despite the fact that now there is an active fight against poachers, groups of hunters are constantly destroying unique animals. Criminals are acquiring increasingly new equipment and weapons for catching even the largest individuals. At the moment, the black rhino is declared extinct, but on Earth there are still many representatives of the subspecies of this giant, which you can still try to save.
Where does the black rhino dwell
The black rhino is found in Central, Southern and Eastern Africa: it lives in the territories of Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe. In Ethiopia, it is considered extinct. Shrub savannas, acacia groves, light forest forests and arid steppes are the most typical habitats of the black rhinoceros. In the mountains it rises to a height of up to 2,700 m above sea level.
How to recognize a black rhino
The black rhino is a very large animal. The length of its body reaches 3 m, and its mass reaches 2 tons. On the massive head, two horns are clearly distinguished, and in some localities their number can increase to three or even five. The length of the last horn sometimes reaches 40 cm, it is the largest and most noticeable. A distinctive feature of the form is the structure of the upper lip: it is slightly pointed and hangs over the bottom. Despite the name, the natural skin color of the mighty animal is not black, but gray. Interestingly, the rhino horn is unique in its structure. It consists entirely of keratin - a protein that is present in the nails and hair of a person, the shell of an armadillo, porcupine needles, feathers of birds. When injured in young animals, the horn can grow back, in adults it does not recover. Its function is not fully understood. However, scientists have noticed that females who have a horn removed, cease to show interest in their offspring.
Lifestyle and Biology
At night, the black rhino sleeps for about eight to nine hours, and awakes during the day, spending time looking for food, drinking water, or taking mud baths. The rhino has very poor eyesight, but an excellent sense of smell. At short distances, the black rhino is able to develop a significant speed - up to 48 km / h. Buffalo birds and turtles that live in water bodies help the animal get rid of ticks and other subcutaneous parasites. The life span of a black rhino in the wild is 35 years.
The breeding period is not confined to a certain season. Black rhinos do not form married couples and are together only to conceive a future calf. Pregnancy lasts up to 16 months. The mass of the newborn usually does not exceed 35 kg. However, he is well prepared for adult life and can walk within a few minutes after birth. On breastfeeding, he is about two years. It feeds on young shrubs and their shoots. The adult black rhino has few natural enemies. His main competitor is the African elephant, and the Nile crocodile is also dangerous.
Listed in the Red Book
Scientists identify four subspecies of black rhinos. One of them, who lived previously in Cameroon, has been considered extinct since 2011. Three others have different security statuses. Over the past three generations, the number of black rhinoceros, which occupies territory in the East, has decreased by 90%. At the same time, a few years ago, a tendency towards natural population growth was revealed, and, according to the latest data, 740 individuals of this subspecies dwell in nature. However, there is a general trend for the species as a whole.
Since 1960, the global population of black rhinos has declined by 97.6%. By the end of 2010, there were about 4,800 black rhinos in nature. There are several good reasons why the number of black rhinos is rapidly declining. The main one is poaching for the purpose of horn extraction. Back in the Middle Ages, in the epoch of alchemy that was widespread in Europe, it was believed that the bone growth of rhinoceros possesses miraculous power. It was believed that poisoned wine, poured into a cup made of such material, would immediately spit up, and the powder extracted from it would be able to regain lost youth and prolong life. In Asia, for many centuries the horn of the animal was used in traditional medicine: in almost all known recipes of the elixirs of "youth" and "immortality" it was an obligatory component. Horns are also used to make expensive souvenirs: cups, knife handles, carvings, etc.
The unstable political situation on the African continent, and sometimes the lack of local authorities, impede the implementation of various directives of various environmental organizations, which has led to such a catastrophic situation. It is encouraging only the fact that in recent years the number of black rhino has gradually begun to recover.
For several centuries, people have seen in the rhino only a valuable object of hunting. Together with an elephant, a lion, a buffalo and a leopard, the rhino is included in the so-called African Big Five. These are the most dangerous animals and at the same time the most prestigious hunting trophies. Until now, you can get a license to shoot rhinos, and it will cost several tens of thousands of dollars. Why is a modern man willing to pay so much for murder without thinking at all about the consequences of his actions?
The main feature of modern rhinos is represented by the presence of horns in the nose.. Depending on the species, the number of horns can vary in the limit of two pieces, but sometimes there are individuals with a large number of them. In this case, the anterior horn grows from the nasal bone, and the posterior horn - from the frontal part of the animal's skull. Such solid growths are not bone tissue, but concentrated keratin. The length of the largest known horns was 158 centimeters.
It is interesting! Rhinoceros appeared several million years ago, and numerous scientific studies have shown that some fossil rhinoceros did not have a horn on the nose.
Rhinos have a massive body and short, thick limbs. On each such limb is located three fingers, which are completed with wide hooves. The skin is thick, grayish or brownish color. Asian species are distinguished by skin, which in the neck and legs is collected in a kind of folds that look like real armor. All members of the family are characterized by poor eyesight, but this natural deficiency is compensated by excellent hearing and refined smell.
External characteristics of a solitary mammal are directly dependent on its species characteristics:
- Black rhino - a powerful and large animal weighing in the range of 2.0-2.2 tons with a body length of up to three meters and a height of one and a half meters. On the head, as a rule, there are two horns, rounded at the base, up to 60 cm long and even more,
- White rhino - a huge mammal, whose body weight sometimes reaches five tons with a body length within four meters and a two-meter height. The skin color is dark, slate-gray. On the head there are two horns. The main difference from other species is the presence of a wide and flat upper lip, intended for eating a variety of grassy vegetation,
- Indian rhino - a huge animal, reaching a weight of two or more tons. The height of a large male in the shoulders is two meters. Hanging skin, naked, grayish-pink, divided by folds into fairly large areas. On the thick skin plates there are gnarled swellings. The tail and ears are covered with small brushes of stiff hair. On the shoulders, there is a deep and curved skin fold. A single horn is a quarter to a meter long and 60 cm long.
- Sumatran rhino - animal with height in withers 112-145 cm, with a body length within 235-318 cm and a mass of not more than 800-2000 kg. Representatives of the species have a nasal horn no longer than a quarter of a meter long and a short short horn about ten centimeters long in dark gray or black. On the skin there are folds that surround the body behind the front legs and stretch up to the hind limbs. Small skin folds are also present on the neck. Around the ears and at the end of the tail there is a hairball characteristic of the species,
- Javan rhino appearance is very reminiscent of the Indian rhino, but noticeably inferior to him in size. The average length of the body with the head does not exceed 3.1-3.2 meters, with the height at the withers at the level of 1.4-1.7 meters. Javan rhinos have only one horn, the maximum length of which for an adult male is not more than a quarter of a meter. Females, as a rule, do not have horns, or it is represented by a small pineal process. The skin of the animal is completely naked, brown-gray in color, forming folds on the back, shoulders and in the area of the croup.
It is interesting! The coat of the rhino is reduced, therefore, in addition to the brush on the tip of the tail, the growth of wool is observed only along the edges of the ears. The exceptions are representatives of the Sumatran rhinoceros species, whose entire body is covered with rare brown wool.
It should be noted that the Black and White rhinos have no incisors, and the Indian and Sumatran are owners of canines. At the same time, for all five species, there are three molars on each side of the lower and upper jaw.
Character and way of life
Black rhinos almost never show aggression to their relatives, and rare fights end in light injuries. Voice signals of representatives of this type do not differ in a variety or special complexity. An adult animal snorts loudly, and when frightened, it makes a sharp and shrill whistle.
White rhinos, as a rule, are combined into small groups consisting of about ten to fifteen individuals. Adult males are very aggressive towards each other, and fights often cause the death of one of the rivals. Old males with the help of odorous marks mark the territories on which they graze. On hot and sunny days, animals try to hide in the shade of plants and go out into the open only at dusk.
The sluggishness of the Indian rhinoceros is deceptive, so representatives of the species have simply excellent response and mobility. При первых признаках опасности и при самозащите такое животное способно развивать скорость до 35-40 км/ч. В условиях благоприятного ветра крупное непарнокопытное млекопитающее может почувствовать присутствие человека или хищника за несколько сотен метров.
Суматранские носороги ведут преимущественно одиночный образ жизни, а исключение представляет период рождения и последующего воспитания детёнышей. По наблюдениям учёных, это наиболее активный вид из всех существующих ныне носорогов. The mark of the habitable territory is carried out by leaving excrement and scrapping of small trees.
It is interesting! African rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with buffalo starlings, which feed on mites from the skins of a mammal and warn the animal of impending danger, and the Indian rhino has a similar relationship with some other species of birds, including the lane.
Javas rhinoceroses also belong to the category of single animals, therefore pairs in such mammals form only during the mating period. The males of this species, in addition to odorous marks left numerous scratches, which are made with hoofs on trees or the ground. Such tags allow a small mammal to mark the boundaries of its territory.
The rhinoceros family (Rhinoscerotidae) is represented by two subfamilies, including seven tribes and 61 genera (57 genera of rhinoceros are extinct). To date, five modern rhino species are very well studied:
- Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) - African species represented by four subspecies: D. bicornis minor, D. bicornis bicornis, D. bicornis michaeli and D. bicornis longipes (officially declared extinct),
- White rhino (Ceratotherium simum) - is the largest representative of the genus, belonging to the rhinoceros family and the fourth largest land animal on our planet,
- Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) - the largest representative of all existing today Asian Rhinos,
- Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) - the only surviving representative of the genus Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus) from the rhinoceros family. This species includes the subspecies D. sumatrensis sumatrensis (Sumatran western rhinoceros), D. sumatrensis harrissoni (Sumatran eastern rhinoceros) and D. sumatrensis lasiotis.
It is interesting! In less than a quarter of a century, several species of animals have completely disappeared on our planet, including the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes).
The rhinoceros of the genus Indian rhinos (Rhinoseros) also includes the unpaired mammal of the species Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), represented by the subspecies Rh. sondaicus sondaicus (type subspecies), Rh. sondaicus annamiticus (Vietnamese subspecies) and Rh. sondaicus inermis (continental subspecies).
Black rhinos are typical inhabitants of dry landscapes, tied to a specific habitat zone that is not abandoned throughout their lives. The most numerous subspecies, D. bicornis minor, inhabits the southeastern part of the range, including Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, and the northeastern part of South Africa. The typical subspecies D. bicornis bicornis is an adherent of the drier areas of the southwest and northeast ranges in Namibia, South Africa and Angola, and the eastern subspecies D. bicornis michaeli occurs mainly in Tanzania.
The area of distribution of the white rhino is represented by two distant regions. The first (southern subspecies) lives on the territory of South Africa, in Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The habitat of the northern subspecies is represented by the northern and northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The Indian rhino spends most of the time alone, on an individual plot. Currently found exclusively in southern Pakistan, Nepal and East India, and a small number of animals remained in the northern territories of Bangladesh.
Everywhere, with rare exceptions, representatives of the species live in strictly protected and sufficiently large areas. The Indian rhino swims very well, so there are cases when such a large animal swam across a wide Brahmaputra.
Earlier, representatives of the Sumatran rhinoceros inhabited tropical rainforests and marshes in Assam, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and also met in China and Indonesia. To date, Sumatran rhinos are on the verge of extinction, therefore, only six viable populations have survived in Sumatra, Borneo and the Malay Peninsula.
It is interesting! Rhinos, who live alone, at watering sites may well tolerate their relatives, but in an individual plot they always show intolerance and engage in fights. Nevertheless, rhinos of one herd, on the contrary, protect representatives of the clan and are even capable of helping their wounded brethren.
Typical habitats of the Javan rhinoceros are tropical lowland forests, as well as wet meadows and river floodplains. Some time ago, the entire continental part of Southeast Asia, the territory of the Great Sunda Islands, the southeastern part of India, and the extreme zones of southern China were included in the distribution range of this species. To date, the animal can be seen only in the conditions of the national park Ujung Kulon.
Black rhinos feed on mostly young shrub shoots that are captured by the upper lip.. The animal is not at all frightened by sharp thorns and caustic sap of eaten vegetation. Black rhinos feed in the morning and evening when the air gets cooler. Daily sent to the watering place, which sometimes is located at a distance of up to ten kilometers.
Indian rhinos are herbivores that feed on aquatic vegetation, young reed shoots and elephant grass, which are cleverly broken with the help of the upper keratinous lip. Along with other rhinos, Javanese is exclusively a herbivore animal, the diet of which is represented by all sorts of shrubs or small trees, mainly their shoots, young leaves and fallen fruits.
Rhinos are very characteristic of piling on small trees, breaking them or bending them down to the ground, after which they tear down the foliage with a tenacious upper lip. With such a feature, rhinoceroses resemble bears, giraffes, horses, llamas, elks and manatee. On the day, one adult rhino consumes about fifty kilograms of green fodder.
Reproduction and offspring
Black rhinos lack a certain breeding season. After sixteen months of pregnancy, only one baby is born, which feeds on milk during the first two years of life. Reproduction of white rhinoceros studied poorly enough. The animal reaches sexual maturity at the age of seven to ten years. Rutting time, as a rule, falls on the period from July to September, but there are exceptions. The pregnancy of the female white rhino lasts one and a half years, after which one cub is born. The intergeneric interval is approximately three years.
It is interesting! The baby growing up next to his mother has rather close contact with any other females and their cubs, and the rhino male does not belong to the standard social group.
The female Javan rhino reaches sexual maturity by the age of three or four, and the males become capable of reproduction only in the sixth year of life. Pregnancy lasts sixteen months, after which one baby is born. The litter of the female of this species of rhino brings every five years, and the lactation period lasts up to two years, during which the cub does not leave its mother.
Young representatives of any species in rare instances fall prey to the most large predators belonging to the Feline family: tigers, lions, cheetahs. Adult rhinos have no enemies except humans. It is man that is the main cause of the sharp decline in the natural population of such equipedar mammals.
In Asia to this day there is a very high demand for rhinoceros horns, which are used for the manufacture of precious products and are actively used in Chinese traditional medicine. Drugs from rhino horn are not only greatly appreciated, but are also included in the elixirs of "immortality" or longevity. The existence of this market has caused the threat of extinction of rhinos, and dried horn is still used to get rid of:
- chicken pox,
- demonic obsession and madness,
- dog bites, scorpions and snakes,
- epilepsy and syncope,
- food poisoning
- hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding,
- memory loss
- myopia and night blindness,
- plague and polio,
- worms and indomitable vomiting.
It is interesting! The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010 was established Rhino Day, which has since been celebrated annually on September 22.
In addition to poaching, which is widespread in many countries, a huge impact on the rapid extinction of these animals is caused by the destruction of the natural habitat as a result of vigorous agricultural activities. Small-sized mammals survive from areas of distribution and are not able to find a worthy replacement for the abandoned territories.
Population and species status
Black rhino in some areas is under threat of extinction. Currently, the general population of the species is about 3.5 thousand heads. The relatively high and stable number of black rhinos is noted on the territory of Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa, which allowed to allow him to hunt. In these countries, a certain number of quotas are allocated annually, which allow the black rhino to be shot. The hunt for the white rhino is also carried out on a very tough quota allocated and with the strictest control.
Today, in the International Red Book, Indian rhinos are given the status of a vulnerable species and the VU category. The total number of representatives of this species is approximately two and a half thousand individuals. However, in general, the Indian rhino is a relatively safe species compared to Javanese and Sumatran congeners.
The Javan rhinoceros belongs to extremely rare animals, and the total number of representatives of this species does not exceed six dozen individuals. The preservation of representatives of the Sumatran rhinoceros in captivity does not give visible positive results. Many individuals die before reaching the age of twenty and not bringing offspring. This feature is due to the lack of knowledge of the lifestyle of the species, which does not allow to create the most favorable conditions for the right content in captivity.
Interesting facts about rhinos
- Sumatran rhinos are sometimes called hairy rhinos, as they have long shaggy fur, while the rest of the rhinoceros are bald. This species is the last preserved species of woolly rhinos that lived on the planet about 350 to 10 thousand years ago.
- Black rhinos have a peculiar, grabbing upper lip, which helps them to easily catch leaves and branches.
- The names "white" and "black" do not mean the real color of rhinos. "White" (in English "White") - this is just the wrong understanding of the African word "Weit"that in translation means “wide” and describes the wide mouth of this rhino. Another type of rhino was called “black” to somehow distinguish it from white, or perhaps because this rhino loves to roll in dark mud to protect its skin and seems darker.
- Rhinos are considered slow and cumbersome animals, but they can reach speeds when running from 48 to 64 kilometers per hour.
- Small dragging birds have a symbiotic relationship with rhinos. They remove ticks from the surface of their skin, and also warn the rhinos of the danger of loud cries. In the language of the peoples of East Africa Swahili, these birds are called "Askari wa kifaru"which means "rhinoceros defenders".
- Rhinos leave behind manure with a unique odor for each individual as a “message” to other rhinos that this territory is occupied.
- The extinct species of the rhino Indrikotherium is considered the largest mammal that once lived on the planet (it reached up to 8 meters in height and weighed up to 20 tons).
- Rhino horns are made up of keratin, just like human nails.
- Rhino horns are used in folk oriental medicine as a cure for heat and rheumatism. They are also used to make decorative items, such as dagger pens.
- The closest relatives of rhinos are tapirs, horses and zebras.
The disappearance of rhinos
All of the currently existing rhino species are listed in the Red Book, as these animals are on the verge of extinction. A very rare representative of the most ancient rhinoceros is the Sumatran rhinoceros. It is also the smallest member of the rhinoceros family.
Rhino have come under the threat of extinction due to mass extermination in order to extract the horns. Rhino horns are very much appreciated. Previously, they were used for the manufacture of jewelry, as well as in medicine for the preparation of drugs. Even in ancient times, people believed that the rhino horn has unique properties, brings good luck and gives immortality.
Reproduction and longevity
As already known, rhinos live in pairs, but not a male with a female. A strong union is formed between the mother and the cub. And the individuals of the male live in proud solitude until the mating season.
This usually happens in spring, but not only. In the autumn months, rhinos are also not averse to frolic. The male quickly finds the female by the smell of her excrement, but if you happen to meet an opponent on the way, then you need to expect a fierce struggle between them.
Animals will fight until one of them falls to the ground with his whole body. The kids are at risk as well, since they can be accidentally trampled. It happened that the fights were fatal for one of the rivals.
Then, for nearly twenty days, lovers will flirt with each other, lead together to be, prepare for mating. One sexual intercourse in rhinos can last more than an hour.
Immediately after mating, the male leaves for a long time, and perhaps forever his lady of the heart. The young lady goes into pregnant leave for a long sixteen months.
Usually rhino females give birth to one baby, very rarely two. The baby weighs fifty kilograms, is full of strength and energy, because already after a couple of hours he boldly follows his mom. For 12-24 months, the mother will breastfeed the baby with breast milk.
The next time, the offspring will only be three to five years after birth. The previous child either goes away in search of a new home, or leaves his mother for some time, until his younger brother or sister grows up.