Around the world, a million wildlife species are experiencing a sharp fall in population and are on the brink of extinction. Rhinos are one of these wildlife species, and they’ve existed for more than 40 million years—a period much longer than that of humans.
Once upon a time, rhinos could be found all over the planet. Early in the 20th century, half a million rhinos roamed much of North America, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Sadly, there are just 27,000 left today, and they now only exist in a few small protected areas in southern and eastern Africa and a few Asian countries. The five remaining species comprise eight subspecies, but which ones are already extinct?
With their huge horns and thick, armor-like skin, rhinos still have a prehistoric appearance. These days, when you encounter one of these gentle giants, you are gazing into the eyes of one of our planet’s most exquisite legacies. But these days might not last much longer. In this article, we will discover which rhino species are already gone forever and other interesting facts.
3 Extinct Types of Rhinos
1. The Indian Javan Rhinoceros
Formerly found in northern India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, this rhino subspecies has vanished for roughly a century. The Indian Javan Rhino was the first rhino species to be declared extinct in 1920 by the IUCN. It shares the same genus as the Indian rhinoceros and has mosaic skin that resembles armor, but it is smaller, measuring just 3.1–3.2 m (10–10.5 ft) long and 1.4–1.7 m (4.6–5.6 ft) tall. Its horn is smaller than other rhino species and is often less than 25 cm (9.8 in). Females do not have horns at all; only adult males do.
2. The Vietnamese Javan Rhinoceros
This beast has lost its foothold in Vietnam, leaving only the Javan Rhino in Indonesia. These rhinos have been found in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Eastern Thailand for quite some time. The last Vietnamese Javan rhino was poached, which makes this extinction alarming. In the seasonal tropical forest known as Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam in April 2010, a female rhino who was 25 to 30 years old was discovered shot. Although the park had stated that there were between 10 and 15 rhinos, they could not protect them over time. Compared to its diminutive stature, the Vietnamese rhino might be identified as its Javan cousin.
3. The Western Black Rhinoceros
The western black rhinos did not fare as well, as they are the most recent addition to the extinct rhino species. Cameroon was the home of the last known western black rhino. Researchers employ various methods, such as recorded sightings, dung evidence, and feeding indications, to determine whether a species is extinct. Sadly, this subspecies was deemed extinct by the IUCN in 2011. Sub-Saharan African savannas once had a large population, but searches since 2006 have shown no signs of it. The western black rhinoceros was thought to have a unique genetic composition compared to the other rhino subspecies.
The western black rhinoceros was 3–3.75 meters (9.8–12.3 feet) long, 1.4–1.8 meters (4.6–5.9 feet) tall, and weighed 800-1,400 kilograms (1,760–3,090 pounds). It possessed two horns, the first of which was 0.5–1.4 m (1.6–4.6 ft) long, and the second measured 2–55 cm (0.79–21.65 in) long. They were browsers, like all black rhinos, and typically consumed leafy plants and shoots from their habitat. They would look for food in the morning or the evening, and nap or wallow at the warmest times of the day. They are thought to have been nearsighted and frequently relied on local birds like the red-billed oxpecker to assist them in identifying impending dangers.
What are the Factors that Led to the Extinction of these Rhinoceros Species?
The rhino population has been greatly reduced by the terrible surge in rhino poaching for horn and habitat destruction. China and Vietnam are the most common countries where rhino horn is harvested for the illicit market. Rhino poaching has become lucrative due to the myth that the keratin in rhino horn has medical properties that can treat several illnesses, from hangovers to erectile dysfunction. Because of the illegal trade, rhino horn is more valuable than gold on the black market, making it highly profitable for poachers.
In addition to its medicinal use, rhino horn is often purchased and consumed as a status symbol. In Vietnam and China, horns are offered as expensive gifts or investment opportunities; in Yemen and Oman, horns are carved into daggers and worn by males as a symbol of wealth.
Rhinos are also in danger due to habitat degradation, particularly in Southeast Asia and India, where human populations are growing, and forests are being damaged or destroyed. Logging, agricultural growth, human settlement, road projects, and dam building isolate vital core protected areas more. Asian rhinos typically live in small, isolated communities that are more vulnerable to disease, natural disasters, and inbreeding.
Why Do We Need to Save Rhinos?
We should save rhinos for various reasons, including ecological, economic, and philosophical concerns.
From an ecological standpoint, rhinos and elephants are both considered keystone species because they are mega-herbivores. In their home countries, rhinos are crucial to developing and maintaining strong, healthy ecosystems that support hundreds of fauna and flora. Rhinos are essential to maintaining the equilibrium of these ecosystems, which must remain in place.
Regarding the economy, rhinos are one of the big five mammals that draw tourists from around the world to see them in their natural habitat. Safari tourism is negatively impacted by the extinction of rare and special creatures, and a nation’s whole economy may be put at risk.
From a philosophical point of view, rhinos are one of our last remaining ties to the beginning of time, to a period before humans first walked the earth. According to estimates, the lineage of rhinos can be traced back to the Early Eocene era and the Late Miocene era for African rhinos.
Allowing any animal to become extinct in the twenty-first century is morally repugnant, selfish, and reckless—especially given that humans know better.
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.