The first animal on the list is the Black Rhino. The black rhino has been classed as an endangered species since 1996 and this is mainly due to poachers who killed them for the value of their horns which, ounce for ounce, is the most valuable ‘commodity’ (and I use that word without any wish to imply anything, on earth; the demand being driven by Far Eastern countries. Although charities and organisations are working tirelessly to help increase their population a lot of work remains to be done for their population to even rise to a fraction of what it once was. There are around 5,000 left which shows the hard work done by these organisations as there were only 2,475 left in 1993 after a huge poaching epidemic. By educating against poaching, protecting the black rhinos which are left and working with local governments and communities it is possible to save this important species from extinction. The rhino is one of the oldest groups of mammals and are important for creating blocks of land for conservation which in turn aids other animals who face threats from their environments too and it would be a terrible injustice for wildlife and other mammals if the black rhino was not saved from extinction.
The next species which is highly endangered is the Rothschild’s giraffe. The Rothschild’s giraffe is sometimes known as the Ugandan giraffe or the Baringo giraffe. The Rothschild’s giraffe is extinct in Sudan and has around thirteen ‘populations’ left in Uganda and Kenya, equating to around 700 left in the wild. The Rothschild’s giraffe has a unique pattern on its coat which is more jagged than the other giraffe they also have no patterns below the knee making them easily distinguishable. These giraffes often suffer as their habitats are destroyed when the forests and trees which they roam in, and eat from, are cut down in order for farmers to keep livestock and grow crops. By working with local communities to protect their habitats it is possible that organisations will be able to help protect those still in the wild which will help their numbers grow. Not many people are aware of the fact that there are so many sub-species of giraffes but soon there may be one less sub-species if more is not done to help the Rothschild’s giraffe.
There are two species of hippopotamus that are found in Africa: the ‘large’ hippo and the ‘pygmy’ hippo. Hippo meat is widely available to those who want food and many hippos are shot every year on the premise they are dangerous to humans, which indeed they are as they kill more humans than any other animal in Africa. The biggest killer, of course, being the mosquito. National parks are the primary protection for the hippo that are left. It is important to educate those who are still consuming hippo products to the danger that they are causing and support these organisations that are trying to save the hippopotamus from extinction.
The African wild dog is one of the most endangered mammals in the world with only around 6,600 left in the wild. They are very social animals and travel in packs of between 10 and 25 dogs. Although these dogs are not targeted by poachers, many humans see them as a threat and will kill them if they have they feel at risk. This species also suffers from diseases such as rabies and distemper which greatly decrease their numbers when an outbreak occurs due to their close social interaction. Through creating wildlife corridors for the dogs and nature reserves, they are able to hunt freely without being in contact with humans. This also minimises their contact with other livestock and agricultural farms which are fiercely defended by local communities. It is important for local communities to realise that the African wild dog is an endangered species so that they can work with these organisations and ensure that human contact with this species is minimal so everyone is protected and the dogs are protected from extinction. By ensuring that the locals don’t blame African wild dogs and shoot or poison them and also ensuring that their habitats are protected from building projects there can be a bright future for the African wild dogs.
The last species on the list is the African elephant. The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal and are widely hunted for their ivory tusks. It is important that elephants are protected as they help to maintain habitats for other species who would become vulnerable without them. This includes many tree species which require elephants for germination and dispersal. Not only are elephants widely hunted by poachers but they have also been forced out of many habitats due to humans converting the land for agriculture and development purposes. By protecting the elephants’ habitats and educating about the dangers of poaching organisations can help to minimise the decline in population numbers. Although human-elephant conflict is fairly rare, it is important that local communities work with these organisations to help restrict the elephants from roaming into villages and damaging properties and belongings. By preventing the ivory trade (how though?) and keeping a close eye on the African elephant species there should be no reason that the African elephant would go extinct.
We hope that this blog has opened your eyes to the damage which humans are causing in terms of damaging vital habitats and by poaching these animals. It is important that we all realise how vital each of the animals in our ecosystem are to maintaining a balance and that we aim to do everything we can to prevent these animals from becoming extinct.