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Essay Example: White Rhinos Saved from Extinction

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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The case of White rhinos is an example of how human activities threaten the extinction of different animal and plant species. The white rhino was in northern Africa while the southern ones are predominantly in South Africa. The last three northern white Rhino species, Sudan, Nanjing, and Fatu, live in a 700-acre conservancy in Kenya. The southern white rhino was also on the verge of extinction, but they were saved through conservation efforts. The southern white Rhinos population are approximately 20,000, which makes them a critically endangered species. However, conservation efforts have reduced the rapid decline of the white rhino species. Conservationists have brought back the white rhino species from the brink of extinction. The southern white Rhino was discovered the early 1800s, but by 1892, they were thought to be extinct until a population of about 20 animals was found in Kwazulu-Natal in 1895. Currently, a hundred years of conserving the white rhino, the population of Rhinos is about 20,000 in the wild. Conservationists are making efforts to increase the number of white rhinos in various ways.

Description of White Rhinos and their habitat

White Rhinos are the second-largest land mammals after elephants. A male rhino can grow up to 1.85 meters high and weigh approximately 3.6 tonnes. Female, white rhinos are smaller than their male counterparts, but they are still significantly large; they weigh 1.7 tonnes and a height of 1.77 meters. The common feature of white rhinos is that they have a square upper lip. In addition, white rhinos have a longer skull and less defined forehead compared to black rhinos. The front horn of a white rhino measures 60 cm on average but can grow up to 150 cm.

The habitat of white rhinos lives in groups of 14 notably calves and females (WWF). The adult male has a territory of between one and three kilometers, which they mark with dung piles. However, the female territory can cover seven times as large area as their male counterparts depending on the population density and quality of the habitat. However, the male prevents females from leaving their dominant territory.

Male, white rhinos usually reach their maturity age of mating between 10 and 12 years. On the contrary, female rhinos reach sexual maturity earlier at between 4 and five years, but they do not reproduce until they are between 6 and seven years. The white rhino's usually mated between October and December while in East Africa is between February and June. The gestation period of white rhinos is about 16 months, and between two and three years before getting another calf. White rhinos can live up to 40 years.

Contribution of human beings to their extinction

At some point, rhinos roamed in Africa and Eurasia, but the numbers decreased significantly to the brink of extinction due to human activities. Today, only a few white rhinos live outside protected areas. The population of white rhino dropped significantly because of peaching. The demand for their horn in Asian countries has prompted people to kill rhinos over the years. Rhino horn is used in Asian countries such as Vietnam and China for medical and ornamental purposes. The scarcity of rhinos and increased protection drives horn prices higher, which in turn, intensifies the poachers efforts. The poverty levels of people are attracted by such prices and see poaching rhinos for their horns as a way of improving their economic situation.

The uncontrolled hunting during the colonial era was one of the significant factors that led to the decline in the population of white rhinos. The settlers in Africa used to hunt wild animals for fun and economic purposes. The unchecked hunting and lack of conservation efforts led to the rapid decline of white rhinos. Even though there have been efforts to protect the white rhino as an endangered species, the trade remains a threat to the animals.

Another human activity that threatens the extinction of rhinos is a human encroachment into their habitats. As the population of human beings increase, there is a need for space for settlement. However, the land is a scarce resource for both white rhinos and people. Human beings clear land for human settlement, agricultural production, and illegal logging destroys the white rhinos habitat. As a result, it becomes challenging rhinos to reproduce sustainably. Encroachment of human being on northern white rhinos habitat is one of the factors that affected theirs, which has brought them close to extinction.

Political conflicts have also threatened the survival of rhinos. Conservationists usually prevent the killing of rhinos through patrols and fencing conservation areas and sanctuaries. However, political conflicts make it easier for poachers to take advantage of the absence of security to kill white rhinos. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the areas where poaching has increased due to political conflicts. The rebels take advantage of the situation to kill the endangered species for money to fund their activities. In the process, it pushes animals such as the white rhino to the brink of extinction.

Demand for ivory for ornamental purposes in the Middle East increased the rate of poaching for rhino horns. Between 1970 and 1980, there was an increase in demand for rhino horns from East Africa, which were made into jambiya handles. The demand for ivory in the Middle East was attributed to the oil boom, which enabled people to afford luxurious products. In turn, the population of the northern white rhino was reduced significantly to the point of extinction.

Importance of saving white rhinos

Conservation of white rhinos is essential because they contribute greatly to the ecosystem. In that, there are valuable plants and animal species in rhino conservation areas. The protection of white rhinos also helps protect plant and animal species in the process. Conservationists take into account all other species interacting with white rhinos and protect them in the process.

White rhinos also help contribute to the economic progress of the local community where they lie. Rhinos are among the big five land mammals, which makes it a popular animal that tourists go to see (Save the Rhino International). The tourist brings money to the park, which helps in conservation efforts as well as fund community projects for people living in the park. Furthermore, revenue from tourists will not only help conserve the white rhinos habitat but also help in increasing their numbers.

It is necessary to conserve the white rhinos because not many people know that they are critically endangered. Today, there only a few white rhinos, but in 50 years they may be extinct. Furthermore, not many people know that there are rhinos even in Asia. If people were not aware that one of the biggest land mammals is endangered, there would not be adequate efforts to ensure their conservation. As such, it is important to conserve the white rhinos so that the next generation can also see the magnificence of this animal that has lived for approximately 40million years.

Conservation of white rhinos strengthens international and local law enforcement. The need to conserve white rhinos has encouraged partnerships between the international community with the local agencies to find a lasting solution. For example, special prosecutors have been appointed to countries like South Africa and Kenya to assist in the prosecution of rhino poaching cases. As such, rhino conservation efforts is encouraging cooperation between different countries. For example, Vietnam and South Africa have written commitments for cross-border checks to disrupt illegal trade of white rhino horns.

Furthermore, conservation of white rhinos enables people to contribute funds for conservation of other species as well. The southern and northern white rhinos would not exist today if it were not for financial contributions and determination of conservationists. The efforts of conservationists have increased the white rhino numbers by expanding the areas, creating new ones, and improving security to stop poaching.

Human beings have to take responsibility for being irresponsible with white rhinos. Poachers killed rhinos over the years for personal gain, and others have contributed b purchasing those horns. As such, human beings must restore the population of white rhinos, which has been depleted to the point of extinction. Furthermore, human encroachment has led to declining in white rhino populations. In this regard, people should create special areas where white rhinos can live with minimum interaction with human beings.

The efforts to save the white rhinos have had varying results. On the one hand, efforts to save the northern white rhino have not been successful, and the future is bleak for this sub-species. On the other hand, similar efforts to prevent the extinction of the southern white rhino have been fruitful and the sub-species, which was thought to be extinct in the 19th century, has been successfully revived. A critical analysis of the methods of conservation that have been employed so far is essential because the process of examination provides insight into what can be done differently to improve results. The following section will explore the techniques that have been used to save the white rhino, their pros, and cons, as well as the impact that they have had on white rhino population.

Efforts to Save the Northern White Rhino

The threat of extinction looms larger for the northern white rhino than any other rhino sub-species. Northern white rhinos are now extinct in the wild, and the three remaining individuals live in captivity for security reasons. Consequently, the number of the remaining northern white rhinos have made it difficult to increase their population through breeding. However, this calamitous situation did not arise without sincere efforts to prevent it, and various interventions have been used to save northern white rhinos. Although unsuccessful, rehabilitation in the wild was the first attempt at protecting this noble animal. This was achieved by confining and monitoring rhinos in national parks that provided a natural habitat. In the 1990s, the population of northern white rhinos was approximately 20-30 individuals, and all of them lived in Garamba National Park, which is in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the success of breeding this small population into sustainable numbers failed due to two main reasons, diplomatic bickering and civil unrest.

In 1995, a proposal was made to move some of the rhinos from Garamba to another African country as a way of creating a back-up breeding population using females formerly kept in the San Diego zoo, USA, and Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic. However, differences arose during the process, and the two zoos refused to send their females. A second attempt in 2005 also failed when the Congolese government approved and then rejected a proposal to send five rhinos to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. As a result, the window of opportunity to create a breeding population closed as the numbers of northern white rhinos declined. The decrease in northern white rhino population was exacerbated by the civil unrest that has been present in the DRC since 1998. The war made it difficult to protect the rhinos from poaching due to insecurity and the fact that rebel groups often relied on rhino horn to fund their activities. As a result, Garamba national park was closed down in 2006, consequently ending the hope of saving northern white rhinos through rehabilitation in the wild.

As a way of preventing further population decline through human activities, the surviving northern white rhinos are now held in a conservancy in Kenya, where they are placed under 24-hour surveillance to protect them against...

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