Why are white rhinos endangered?

Written by kaitlin meilert
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Why are white rhinos endangered?
The white rhino is endangered due to poaching, hunting and loss of habitat. (rhino 001 image by TheThirdMan from Fotolia.com)

The northern and southern white rhinos, found in grass savannah and woodland habitats in southern and central Africa, significantly declined in number by the mid-20th century due to human threats. Despite conservation efforts, white rhinos remain endangered.

Threats to Rhinos

White rhinos have declined due to over-hunting; loss of habitat to human settlement and agriculture; and poaching, primarily for the illegal selling of white rhino horns to supply Asia's black market.

Decline of the Southern White Rhino

Once found in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the southern white rhino was considered to be extinct due to farmers and hunters until a small population was found in South Africa in 1895.

Decline of the Northern White Rhino

Once more numerous than the southern white rhino, the northern white rhino was widespread in central and east Africa. Over 2,000 northern white rhinos were known to exist in the 1960s, but their numbers dramatically declined by the 1980s due to over-hunting.

Current Status

The southern white rhino is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as only near threatened, while the northern white rhino is listed as critically endangered.

Current Distribution

Over 16,000 southern white rhinos live in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Cote d'Ivoire. The northern white rhino exists only in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park.

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