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The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to hunting, because it is a large and relatively unaggressive animal and generally occurs in herds.
Historically the major factor in the decline of white rhinos was uncontrolled hunting in the colonial era, but now poaching for their horn is the primary threat. The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to hunting, because it is a large and relatively unaggressive animal and generally occurs in herds.
Adult white rhinos have no natural predators (other than humans) due to their size, and even young rhinos are rarely attacked or preyed on due to the mother's presence and their tough skin. One exceptional successful attack was perpetrated by a lion pride on a roughly half-grown white rhinoceros, which weighed 1,055 kg (2,326 lb), and occurred in Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, the rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is ground into a fine powder or manufactured into tablets to be used as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers. Due to this demand, several highly organized and very profitable international poaching syndicates came into being and would carry out their poaching missions with advanced technologies ranging from night vision scopes, silenced weapons, darting equipment and even helicopters. The ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and incursions by poachers primarily coming from Sudan have further disrupted efforts to protect the few remaining northern rhinos.
recent research has suggested the northern white rhinoceros may be an altogether different species, rather than a subspecies of white rhinoceros, in which case the correct scientific name for the former is Ceratotherium cottoni. Distinct morphological and genetic differences suggest the two proposed species have been separated for at least a million years
Rhinos are one of the few megaherbivores—plant-eaters that weigh more than 2,000 pounds—that still live in the world. Most others have long gone extinct, many of which were victims to human hunting and expansion. Rhinos' continued existence, however, is questionable. Poachers killed nearly 1,000 rhinos in South Africa alone last year—an almost 50 percent increase from 2012—so as things now stand, rhinos may very likely go the way of so many other species before them.
If the rhinos do disappear from Africa, the authors warn, the savannah will likely become a distinctly different place—in addition to an emptier one.[ex]
The Southern Rhino may not be far behind...
From the Red List
There are only a few left in the wild...
Rhino Resource Center
WWFedit on 22-11-2015 by TNMockingbird because: nvm
While the black rhinoceros has 84 chromosomes (diploid number, 2N, per cell), all other rhinoceros species have 82 chromosomes. However, chromosomal polymorphism might lead to varying chromosome counts. For instance, in a study there were three northern white rhinoceroses with 81 chromosomes.
There are two subspecies of white rhinoceros: the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). As of 2013, the southern subspecies has a wild population of 20,405 – making them the most abundant rhino subspecies in the world. However, the northern subspecies was critically endangered, with as few as four individuals in the wild; the possibility of complete extinction in the wild having been noted since June 2008. Five are known to be held in captivity, one of which resides at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Four born in a zoo in the Czech Republic were transferred to a wildlife refuge in Kenya in December 2009, in an effort to have the animals reproduce and save the subspecies.
Three families, sometimes grouped together as the superfamily Rhinocerotoidea, evolved in the late Eocene, namely the Hyracodontidae, Amynodontidae and Rhinocerotidae.