The Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the only remaining of the African Big Five animals to be presented in our African Safari posting series. The reason they are marginalized is that there are very few remaining in the wild. The rhinoceros is a severely endangered species. We saw only three of them and they all were captives in highly guarded reserve areas. It may become the first of the big five to become extinct and this could easily happen within our lifetime. In the estimate of the South African government the “killing of rhinos by hunting will exceed that of births by next year, thus precipitating a slide towards the extinction abyss.” Without drastic measures they will be wiped out as surely as the dinosaurs.
The featured image shows the horns of the rhinoceros. These are the prize for which they are savagely and illegally hunted. All images were made in Botswana.
The drastic procreative measures include extraordinary protection from poachers and other hunters, careful management for natural breeding programs, promotion of high-tech breeding programs using artificial insemination and hormone management for increased fertility.
Rhinos are poorly understood therefore breeding is not easy. They have a long gestation period; the inter-birth interval appears to be ~3 to 4 years; sexual maturity of the female may be up to age seven; males up top ~10 years; fertility also may depend on ovulation cycle, hormone levels, and the size of pre-ovulatory follicles. Life span is ~40 yrs. Adult weight is 2.5K to 4K pounds. Management is difficult because they are not docile animals. Maximum possible offspring per life time is ~ 06.
There is some hope that breeding programs will at least stabilize the population. With the cooperative effort of the government of South Africa, Botswana “will become the next Noah’s Ark for rhinos in Africa”. The exact location of the breeding stations was not disclosed. There are also private animal breeders who specialize in these large animals.
On this trip we saw multiple endangered animal species including the Hartebeest, Gravy’s zebra, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Wild Dogs, Roan antelope, Thompson’s gazelle and the lesser Kudu. There are others which we did not see like the Pangolin and the Sable antelope.
My general suggestion is to visit the African nations that promote the wildlife and are safe to visit. See the animals, plants and ecosystems while you can because the future is unpredictable.
#rhinoceros #Africa #Kenya Botswana #rewinding #breeding #endangered #extinct #horns #poaching #
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John, I have so enjoyed your commentary & information regarding these amazing creatures. I saw the black rhinos in Uganda & they were highly protected due to their few numbers.
Thanks for your comments. You must have had an excellent experience. At which camp site were you staying in Uganda? Were the rhinos roaming freely? When were you there?