This week’s blog is about five of the most endangered animals in Africa, these five animals are in grave danger of becoming extinct and although there are preventative measures that can be taken, the main causes of the decline in population of these animals are human causes. It is important that people recognise the harmful effects of many human practices on our ecosystem and these valuable animals.
The Black Rhino
Since 1996, the black rhino has been classed as an endangered species due to the fact that they are one of the most valuable animals to poachers who kill them and then sell their horns. Despite the fact that many organisations and charities are working hard to turn things around for the black rhino and protect them whilst increasing their populations it requires a lot of money and work if the population of black rhinos is even to rise by a fraction. Nowadays, there are only about 5,000 black rhinos left and although this number is small, in 1993, there were under 2,500 left after a huge poaching epidemic. This shows how although it is taking a long time, wildlife organisations are helping the black rhino to increase its numbers, partly by educating against poaching but mainly by protecting the remaining black rhinos by working with local governments and communities. The rhino is one of the oldest groups of mammals and they are vital for creating land for conservation which means that their existence aids other animals who are in need of protection from environmental factors. It is essential that we all realise the importance of the black rhino and support these organisations that work so tirelessly to aid them.
The Rothschild’s Giraffe
The Rothschild’s giraffe is also commonly known as the Ugandan giraffe or the Baringo giraffe and it is a highly-endangered species. The Rothschild’s giraffe is extinct in Sudan and only has about 13 populations left in Uganda and Kenya which means that there are only around 700 Rothschild’s giraffes left in the wild. The Rothschild’s giraffe is easily identified as it has a unique pattern on its coat, the pattern is more jagged than other species of giraffes and also unlike other giraffes, they don’t have any patterns on their coats below their knees. The Rothschild’s giraffes often suffer because their habitats are often destroyed when farmers cut down forests in order for them to keep livestock and grow crops on the land. Wildlife organisations work tirelessly to protect their habitats by working with local communities to educate them of the harmful effects of taking away the Rothschild’s giraffes’ habitats. They also spend time helping to protect the giraffes that are still in the wild so that they can breed and numbers can start to rise again. Another issue that organisations face is the fact that not many people are aware of the fact that there are many sub-species of giraffes which means that the Rothschild’s giraffe are often overlooked.
In Africa, there are two different species of hippopotamus: the ‘large’ hippo and the ‘pygmy’ hippo. Hippos are widely hunted and it is easy to source hippo meat in Africa, furthermore, many communities believe that hippos are a danger to humans, which may be true as they kill more humans every year than any other animal in Africa. This means that many are shot every year which further lowers their numbers. National parks are used to protect the remaining hippos that are left in the wild but wildlife organisations spend a lot of time trying to educate local communities on the effects that consuming hippo meat is having on the numbers of hippos left in the wild.
African Wild Dog
The African wild dog is undoubtedly one of the most endangered mammals in the world as there are only 6,600 of them left in the wild. The African wild dog is a very social animal and they travel in packs of between 10 and 25 dogs. Although poachers are not a threat to the African wild dog, they are considered by many local governments and communities to be a threat to humans which leads to them being shot and killed if communities start to feel at risk. Disease is also a big killer of the African wild dog as they suffer from diseases such as rabies and distemper which kill them easily and due to the fact that they travel in close packs, when one or two of the dogs becomes ill, all of the dogs normally catch the disease. Wildlife organisations spend time creating wildlife corridors for the African wild dogs and nature reserves where they are able to hunt freely and don’t come into contact with humans. This isolation from other livestock and agricultural farms not only minimises the spread of diseases but also means that they cannot be seen as a threat to humans or anyone’s livelihood. Whilst these nature reserves and wildlife corridors aid the African wild dogs, it is imperative that local governments and communities realise that the African wild dog is a highly-endangered mammal and that they should not go hunting for the dogs, with this knowledge, it is possible that their numbers could rapidly increase over the next ten years or so.
Last, but certainly not least, are African elephants. The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal but they are widely hunted by poachers who kill them to sell their ivory tusks. It is important that everything possible is done to help protect these elephants as their presence helps to maintain habitats for other species who would be vulnerable and may even become extinct without the African elephants. Some of these species include tree species which require the elephants for germination and dispersal. Although the African elephants’ main threat is the poaching, many local communities and governments force the elephants out of their habitats because they want to develop the land for agriculture and development purposes. If wildlife organisations are able to educate people about the horrors of poaching the elephants as well as educate local communities so that they are aware that they need to do all that they can to protect the African elephant then it is possible that the African elephant could have a bright future.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about these interesting animals and that your eyes have been opened to the damage that humans have been causing in the last 50 years or so by damaging animals’ habitats, poaching animals and hunting them for no reason. Each of these animals are vital to the ecosystem and to maintain the balance, something must be done to prevent these animals from becoming extinct.