Steel Black Rhino

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The Black Rhino is Fast Facing Extinction and Needs to be Saved

The Black Rhino which is high on the list of endangered species is native to eastern and central Africa, namely Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Though it is called a black rhino, the actual color is brownish or grayish or even white. The species is critically endangered and one subspecies, the Western Black Rhinoceros is considered to be extinct.

A fully grown male of this species stands at up to 6 ft in height and can weigh up to 1400 kg with some unusually large specimens weighing even up to2800 kg. The females are smaller made and weigh less. The rhinos are typically solitary animals and congregate only during the mating season. Females are more sociable than males.. These huge animals have a voracious appetite that consists mainly of leafy plants, branches, shoots and thorny bushes. They can go without water for at least 5 days at a stretch. As they dwell in extremely hot areas, they constantly wallow in slush which helps to keep the body cool and keep away parasites. They use grunts, trumpets, sorts and high-pitched screams to communicate with each other. This is one reason that they are not territorial in nature. However, the black rhinos have a reputation of being extremely aggressive and would burst into a charge at any perceived threat.

Due to their bad eyesight scent marking is used to identify themselves and their sense of smell is so keen that they can smell the feces and identify the presence of other members. They often break into violent fights with each other that seldom end in the weaker one losing its life. They do not have any permanent dwelling places as they need to be on the move in search of food and water. These animals have 2 horns on the skull which are made up of keratin a fibrous structural protein and it is a key component of hair and nails. This should explode the myth that the horns possess medicinal properties, especially aphrodisiac properties.

The rhinos were primarily hunted with the belief that the horn had a cure for most ills and was capable of giving an instant cure for impotency. It is indeed a pity that effective drugs to cure erectile dysfunction were invented a bit too late. It is appalling to note that man's inability could have been one of the primary reasons for the extinction of an entire species. The typical length of a Rhino horn is about 20 in however the longest one measured 4.9 ft. The horns were used for defense and as an intimidating weapon. It was also used to dig up roots and break branches during feeding. There is a slight variation in the formation of the lips with the white rhinos having square lips suited for eating grass and the black ones have long pointed prehensile upper lips which are ideal for grasping leaves and twigs that they feed on. The rhino has a thick layered skin that is as strong as an armor plate. This serves as protection against thorns and blades of sharp grasses. They possess poor eyesight which is compensated by a keen sense of sound and an excellent sense of smell that alerts them of any danger.

t is believed that there existed several hundred thousand black rhinos in Africa in the 1900's. This number got reduced alarmingly to about 70,000 in the late 1970's to less than 15000 in the 1980's. In 2002 there were only 10 rhinos that remained in Cameroon. And today they are believed to be extinct as none have been sighted. Though it may be too late to save the Black Rhino, definite efforts need to be made by spreading awareness to save the other species that are endangered but still can be saved.

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