The western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes), one of four sub-species of black rhino, has gone extinct. Illegal poaching, limited anti-poaching efforts, weak legislation and a lack of prosecution efforts altogether contributed to the demise of the western black rhinoceros. All other three subspecies of black rhino, South-Central, South-Western and East African black rhino, run a similar risk of extinction.
The western black rhino was once widespread across the savannas of central-west Africa but suffered a decline due to hunting in the early 20th century. The population rebounded in the 1930s due to conservation efforts, but reversed as these waned. The population was the hundreds by 1980 and declined to 10 by 2000. The rhino becomes the second declared extinct this year. Last month the Vietnamese rhino, a subspecies of the Javan rhino, was officially listed as extinct.
Both species were the victim of habitat loss and poaching. Both suffered ultimately from the Chinese rhino horn trade, which has driven the price of horn beyond gold, despite no evidence to suggest horn has any power beyond the placebo effect. The next rhino likely to become extinct is the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), a central African subspecies of white rhino. The Javan rhino is meanwhile down to less than 40 individuals in Sumatra's Ujung Kulon National Park.
The EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign focuses attention on the extinction crisis that is currently taking place in Southeast Asia. The campaign raises funds and awareness for the conservation of the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. One of the projects that the campaign will support is the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinos sumatrensis) project in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra. The Sumatran rhinoceros is critically endangered (IUCN Red list status) and it is estimated that in Way Kambas alone only 40 individuals survive nowadays. Time is running out. By raising funds and awareness the EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign aims to stop the Sumatran rhinoceros to go down the same way as the western black and Vietnamese rhinoceros.
Learn more about the Sumatran rhinoceros project on the EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign website.