Endangered Species


(Black Rhino Photo: Courtesy AAZK:Bowling for Rhinos)

What's the Problem? Before 1900, hundreds of thousands of rhinos roamed over huge areas of Africa and Asia. (And they were perfectly happy doing that for 50 million years!)

  • Since 1970, more than 90% of the world's rhinoceros have disappeared!

Only about 18,000 rhinos remain in the wild today. All five species of rhinos - the Black (or hooked lip) rhino, the White (or square lip) rhino, the Indian rhino, the Sumatran rhino, and the Javan rhino - are all threatened with extinction. What's been happening to the rhinos? The usual things that put animals on the Endangered Species List:

  • Poaching - Humans are illegally hunting rhinos.
  • Habitat Loss - Humans are getting on rhino's turf.
  • Low Reproductivity - It takes a long time to make a baby rhino (calf).

Poaching: The word rhinoceros means "horn-nosed," and that horn is a very valuable thing (for the rhino, that is). Rhinos use their horns for:

  • shoveling the ground for mineral salt
  • fighting over territory or during courtship
  • defending themselves and their young against lions, tigers and hyenas

Unfortunately, humans find rhino horns very valuable too. In Yemen, they're carved into fancy dagger handles, which sell for $500 to $12,000! Many Asians believe that powdered rhino horn cures everything from nose bleeds to food poisoning. Some think that powdered rhino horn can keep a person young and increase sexual energy. As a result, poachers kill rhinos, cut off their horns and sell them for big bucks!

As if killing rhinos for their horns wasn't bad enough, other parts of the rhino (skins and hooves) are also bought and sold illegally throughout the world.

  • In 1970 there were about 65,000 Black rhinos in the wild. In 1995, there were only about 2,400.
That's the fastest decline of any large mammal in recorded history!

Habitat Loss: In India, where the rhino is considered a hungry "pest," rhino grazing grounds have been converted to rice paddies to feed an ever-growing human population. In Java, the rhino's forest habit has shrunk because humans have chopped down trees to use the wood for building homes.

Low Reproductivity: Rhinos are slow breeders, meaning they don't mate very often. Once a female rhino gets pregnant, it takes (15-16 months) before the baby (called a calf) is born and that only happens once every 2 to 4 years! This makes it very hard for the rhino to rebound from its low numbers and avoid extinction.

(Photo: Courtesy AAZK:Bowling for Rhinos)

It's The Law!

The rhino is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an agreement signed by over 120 nations (including the United States) to eliminate illegal trade in certain live animals and their body parts and associated products.

Currently, some countries are threatening to impose trade sanctions against Yemen, South Korea, China and Taiwan for allegedly violating the CITES agreement. The United States imposed wildlife trade sanctions on Taiwan in 1994 for that country's illegal trade in rhino as well as tiger parts and products. This is the first time the United States has taken such action to penalize another country because of illegal trade in endangered wildlife.

In 1994, the United States Congress passed the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act to provide resources to conservation programs focused on saving these endangered species.

What You Can Do To Help!

While rhinos might not be the cutest, sweetest animals on the planet, they are unique and fascinating creatures that deserve our help. You know what they say: "Extinct is forever!" As long as the demand for rhino horns remains high, all five species of rhinos are in trouble. We must take strong measures to protect not only this animal but every species and their habitat. So get involved in the solution!

1. Write to President Obama and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior expressing your concern about the fate of rhinos and your desire that they be saved:

Write The President at:

President Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Email The President:

[email protected]

Write The Secretary at:

Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Email The Secretary:

click here

2. Write your United States Senator and Congressional Representative. Tell them how important rhinos are to you and ask them to continue to support protection for rhinos and their habitat.

3. Adopt-A-Rhino through the World Wildlife Fund. Without your help and contributions, rhinos will go the way of the dodo.

4. Check out these websites and find out what these organizations are doing to help save the rhino. Find out what you can do to work with them!


African Wildlife Foundation

African Wildlife Foundation - has been working with the people of Africa, since 1961, to protect their natural resources. Most of AWF''s staff is in Africa working at the grass roots level with park managers and communities to safeguard wildlife and wilderness areas.

Write them at:

African Wildlife Foundation
1400 16th Street, NW
Suite 120
Washington, D.C. 20036

Call them at:

(202) 939-3333
(202) 939-3332 Fax

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

[email protected]

Black Rhino Foundation - promotes and encourages conservation of the highly endangered black rhino.

They are a development arm for a number of organizations that protect and preserve the rhino species through building and maintaining of secured preserves, sanctuaries and national parks. They focus their efforts on creating awareness and generating funds through membership drives, special events, educational programs and merchandising.

Write them at:

Black Rhino Foundation
1250 Cherry Street
Winnetka, IL 60093

Call them at:

(773) 339-2040
(888) 838-8925 toll free
(847) 295-9670 Fax

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

[email protected]

Bowling for Rhinos - AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) realized that the zoo keepers of the world were extremely conservation oriented and wanted to help save Rhinos and their habitats, yet did not have the financial resources themselves to make any significant impact. They then started a National bowl-a-thon called Bowling For Rhinos. 100% of all donations are sent directly to 3 Rhino Conservation Areas!

Write them at:

Bowling for Rhinos
American Association of Zoo Keepers, Inc.
Administrative Offices
3601 SW 29th St., Suite 133
Topeka, KS 66614

Call them at:

(785) 273-1980

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

ppear3 at

International Rhino Foundation

International Rhino Foundation - (IRF) - is dedicated to the conservation of Black, White, Sumatran, Javan and Indian rhinos; the five species of rhinoceros. 

Write them at:

IRF Program Office White Oak Conservation Center
3823 Owens Road
Yulee, Florida 32097

Visit their web site at:

Email them at:

[email protected]

(Photo: Courtesy AAZK:Bowling for Rhinos)


Help other Endangered Species

Check out other Environmental Organizations


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