The Rhinoceros: Saving an Icon

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8526743557_5c3a36734eThe rhino is an iconic animal. With their tough demeanor and unforgettable horn, what’s not to love?

This majestic creature has been on earth more than 9.2 million years, according to a recent PLOS ONE article, where researchers describe a fossil belonging to a large two-horned rhinocerotine species in central Turkey.  This rhino was preserved in volcanic rock, a process which accounts for less than two percent of the earth’s fossils. The scientists believe an eruption similar to that of Mt. Vesuvius must be responsible for the impeccable preservation. This study gave us a sense of just how long these brilliant beasts have been among us; however their existence is in grave danger today.

Yesterday May 1st, was Save the Rhino day. The purpose of this day is to bring awareness to rhino conservation and the threats this animal faces in the wild. The rhinoceros does not have any known predators, except for us! Humans have been poaching the rhino at astounding rates for their distinctive horn. The horn is made of keratin, the same protein in our finger nails and hair, and is thought to offer health benefits in traditional medicine. The horn has also been poached for luxury items in other parts of the world.

Today, there are fewer than 29 thousand rhinos on earth, with the white rhino on the brink of extinction. In a recent PLOS ONE article, authors have investigated how potential losses in conservation efforts would affect the white rhino population in South Africa. The authors specifically looked into Kruger National Park where the rhino population increased from 1998 to 2008. Despite this increase, researchers have predicted that by 2015 more white rhinos will be poached than bred, bringing the species into a negative growth phase. Due to the high demand for rhino horns, the authors urge conservationists to find innovative approaches to curb the financial incentive driving the poaching.

Global awareness and conservation is desperately needed to ensure the rhinoceros continues to graze the earth for millions of years to come. For more research on conservation and the glorious rhinoceros, visit our site here.

 

Citations:

Citation: Antoine P-O, Orliac MJ, Atici G, Ulusoy I, Sen E, et al. (2012) A Rhinocerotid Skull Cooked-to-Death in a 9.2 Ma-Old Ignimbrite Flow of Turkey. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49997. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049997

Citation: Ferreira SM, Botha JM, Emmett MC (2012) Anthropogenic Influences on Conservation Values of White Rhinoceros. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045989

Image on Flickr by wwarby

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