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Western Black Rhino

Location: Western Africa, the last place the rhino was seen was Cameroon

Year of extinction

2006

About

The Western Black Rhino

The Western Black Rhino is one of four sub-species of black rhino. It has two horns, a longer one in front and a smaller one behind the main horn. This front horn can measure anywhere from two feet to a massive four feet. The Western Black Rhino was generally ten to twelve feet long, five feet tall, and weighed anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 pounds. The rhino was truly a gigantic and majestic beast.

The Western Black Rhino had a prehensile lip, which it used to browse for leaves and twigs. The creature roamed the plains of Western Africa, though its last stronghold was in Cameroon and Chad.

Remaining three sub-species still endangered

Unfortunately, the other three sub-species of the black rhino group face the same fate as the Western Black Rhino unless strong measures against poaching are taken soon.

Reason they are extinct

Poaching

The saga of poaching against the Western Black Rhino is long and tragic. At the beginning of the twentieth century the rhino faced much adversity with hunters and poachers lusting after the prize animal. By 1930 however the local governments had taken strong measure to protect the rhino, and the animal flourished during these years of protection. Over the years however the political climate changed and measures against poacher began to become lax.

In the years approaching the 1980s the Western Black Rhino saw a dramatic decrease, and between the 1970s and 1996 the rhino's numbers decreased from 3,000 to just 10 Western Black Rhinos. In 1980 there were 25 black rhinos alive in Chad, but by 1990 they were considered extinct in that country. In 1980 there were about 110 rhinos in Cameroon, but by 1990  there were only 30 individuals left. Natural death combined with a few poaching efforts meant that by 1996 only ten rhinos remained, and those were thought to be too far apart to breed.

A search in 2006 failed to find the Black Rhino

In 2006 a team of experts searched the region (1,200 miles) for any sign of the Western Black Rhino. They failed to find any. After this failed search the World Conservation Union decided to declare the Western Black Rhino extinct. There are those who disagree with the verdict though, and insist that the Western Black Rhino still exists and that conservation efforts need to be taken immediately. Doctor Hubert Planton, a French veterinarian in Cameroon, insists that he, along with expert trackers, have found signs of the rhino as recently as 2006. He and his association, known as Kilifori, will continue to search  for signs of the Western Black Rhino in order to save it.

Poaching is just too lucrative

Poachers lust after the horn of the Western Black Rhino because it has a high value on the black market. The rhino's horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as serving as the hilt of ceremonial daggers in the Middle East. The lure of money as well as lack of proper jobs in the region combined with lax punishments for poaching makes hunting the rhino irresistible for some.

There are no Western Black Rhinos in captivity.

References

  • The Extinction Website- Western Black Rhino: http://www.petermaas.nl/extinct/speciesinfo/westernblackrhino.htm
  • 2007 IUCN Red List: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/39319/all
  • West African black rhino 'is extinct': http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article684547.ece
Submitted by cennywenny on Sep 2, 2008