Rhinos have existed on Earth for more than 50 million years and have a glorious history. In the past, rhinos were much more diverse and widespread (occurring in North America and Europe as well as in Africa and Asia).
Today, only five species of rhino survive. These five species are further divided into 11 identified subspecies. All rhinos are under threat of, and all but one species is on the verge of, extinction. Without drastic action, some rhinos could be extinct in the wild within the next 10-20 years. Only about 25,000 of these marvellous creatures survive in the wild with another 1,250 in captivity. Of these rhinos, more than two thirds are white rhinos. There are only around 7,300 of the other four species combined. Best current population estimates are:
The rhino ‘horn’ is not a real horn but thickly matted hair, consisting of Keratin, the same chemical
substance that our finger nails and hair are made of. If a rhinos horn is broken off, it will grow back again. A rhinos horn grows all through its lifetime and grows at a rate of 1 – 3 inches per year, the longest recorded rhino horn is 5 feet long.
Unfortunately, rhinos are a severely endangered species. Rhinos have been on the brink of extinction numerous times. This is mainly from humans. Humans seem to be the rhinos only predator. The rhino is poached and hunted mostly for its horn. In Asian countries they use the horns for alternative medicines, ornaments and other really unnecessary things. In 1984, the rhino population was so low it was feared they would be wiped out altogether. Thanks to their rescuers who gave the remaining rhinos sanctuary in reserves and safe haven farms, they were allowed to increase their numbers and be re-introduced. But the upsurge of poaching of late has made conservationist concerned for the safety of the rhino population once more.
Watercolour sketch of a white Rhino painted with w/n watercolour paints on ‘prime art’ 300gsm paper