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West African black rhino may be extinct

West African black rhino may be extinct

West African black rhino may be extinct
July 17, 2006

Recent surveys conducted by IUCN in northern Cameroon found no evidence of the West African black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes). The organization fears the sub-species is now extinct in the wild.

“As a result this subspecies has been tentatively declared as extinct,” said Dr. Martin Brooks, chairman of the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

The organization also found that the populations of the northern white rhino have reached an all time low in the wild. Surveys located only four individuals. The main cause for the disappearance of both species is poaching for rhino horn.

“[T]he northern white rhino is on the very brink of being lost,” said Brooks. “Restricted in the wild to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo , recent ground and aerial surveys conducted under the direction of African Parks Foundation and the AfRSG have only found four animals. Efforts to locate further animals continue, but we must now face the possibility that the subspecies may not recover to a viable level.”

White Rhino in Kenya. Photo by Rob Roy (top). Captive Southern White Rhinos at UWEC in Entebbe, Uganda. Photo by Rhett A. Butler (bottom)

Rhino horn is used primarily in traditional Asian medicine and for decorative dagger handles in Yemen and Oman. Typically the animal is killed for its horn and its body is left for waste. A Rhino horn can fetch more than $100,000 in the black market, so scientists are researching ways to create synthetic horns in an effort to undermine demand by flooding the market for the animal part.

Other rhino populations are fairing better. IUCN reports that continental black rhino numbers have increased to 3,725 from an all time low of 2,410 in 1995 while the southern white rhino subspecies has seen its population climb from less than 50 animals a hundred years ago to 14,540.

In total, there are four recognized subspecies of black rhinoceros: the South-central Africa black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor), the South-western Africa back rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis), the West African black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes), and the East African black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli). There are two recognized subspecies of White rhino: the Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and the Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).

Rhino are large herbivorous ungulates native to Africa and Asia. There are five species, all of which are threatened


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Uganda imports rhinos from Kenya

Uganda has imported four rhinos from Kenya according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). UWA hopes to develop a captive breeding program in an effort to reintroduce rhinos after their disappearance from the country in the 1960s due to poaching

This article used information and quotes from an IUCN news release.