Rhinos are among the “Big Five” species famous in African wildlife conservations and national parks. Its population, which comprises five different species, is spread across the world. The white and black rhinos are the two dominant species found in Africa. The other three species – the Javan, the Sumatran, and the greater one-horned rhino – are found in Asia.

The black rhino, the Javan, and the Sumatran are considered highly endangered, while white rhinos fall in the near-threatened category of wildlife species. The population of Sumatran rhinos is approximately 34 to 47, while Javan rhinos are about 76, facing the risk of extinction. 

The greater one-horned rhinos are also a vulnerable species. About 4,014 rhinos fall under this category. White rhinos are the leading population at about 15,942 animals worldwide. 

Rhinos are large animals, with the smallest species, the Sumatran rhino, weighing about 1,350 pounds. White rhinos weigh about 7,720 pounds, the largest among all rhino species.

Rhinos are peaceful animals but can get aggressive when attacked, provoked, or threatened. An interesting video shows a large rhino running across the street without the slightest care in the world. 

The short clip captures the animal making steady strides on the empty streets as it moves forward without causing disruptions. One person is seen seeking refuge after spotting the rhino charging in their direction, further clearing the path and paving the way for it. 

Attacks from Rhinos vs. Attacks on Rhinos

Rhino attacks on humans are rare but can be messy and fatal when they occur. The average number of human killings by rhinos is two to three each year. Black rhinos are more aggressive than other species. When charging toward an object, it applies an average of 4,430 pounds hitting force, causing massive destruction.

Rhino poaching is a global concern, as more than 7,100 animals have died at the hands of poachers over the last decade. The number shows that about two rhinos die unnaturally for their precious horns and skins. 

South Africa records the highest number of rhino killings. For instance, poachers in the country killed up to 451 rhinos in 2021, with 24 killings occurring in 11 days in December.

The greatest motivation for rhino poaching is the high demand and cost of rhino horns in the black market. One kilogram of black or white rhinos costs up to $20,000, while horns from Asian rhinos cost up to US$400,000 per kilogram.

close up of a rhino
The greatest motivation for rhino poaching is the high demand and cost of rhino horns in the black market.

iStock.com/nuwatphoto

Role of Rhinos in the Ecosystem

Rhinos are grazers that eat different plant species and release seeds in various parts of the landscape. As a result, the ecosystem achieves a healthy balance as other animals and plants benefit from the mixed species.

Waterholes and dams across the wild rely on big-bodied animals like rhinos to deepen and remain open. So they also create “wallow dams” as they stomp away from the central watering hole. The small holes from the rhinos’ footsteps fill up with water, from which birds and smaller animals can drink.

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