Western black rhinoceros
The western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) or West African black rhinoceros is an extinct subspecies of the black rhinoceros.They were believed to have been genetically different from other rhino subspecies. It was once widespread in the savanna of sub-Saharan Africa but its numbers declined due to poaching. The western black rhinoceros resided primarily in Cameroon, but recent surveys have failed to locate any individuals. In 2011 it was declared extinct by the IUCN.
The western black rhinoceros measured 3–3.8 m (9.8–12.5 ft) long, had a height of 1.4–1.7 m (4.6–5.6 ft), and weighed 800–1,300 kg (1,800–2,900 lb). It had two horns, the first measuring 0.5–1.3 m (1.6–4.3 ft) and the second 2–55 cm (0.79–22 in). Like all Black Rhinos, they were browsers, and their common diet would include leafy plants and shoots around their habitat. During the morning or evening, they would browse for food, and during the hottest parts of the day would instead either sleep or wallow. They used to inhabit much of sub-Saharan Africa. Their horns are believed by many to hold medicinal value, leading to heavy poaching. However, this belief has no grounding in scientific fact. Like most black rhinos, they were believed to have been nearsighted, and would often rely on local birds, such as the red-billed oxpecker, to help them detect incoming threats.
Population and decline
The western black rhinoceros was heavily hunted in the beginning of the 20th century, but the population rose in the 1930s after preservation actions were taken. As protection efforts declined over the years so did the number of western black rhinos. By 1980 the population was in the hundreds. Poaching continued and by 2000 only an estimated 10 survived. In 2001, this number dwindled to only five. While it was believed that around thirty still existed in 2004, this was later found to be based upon falsified data. In early 2006 an intensive survey of northern Cameroon (the last remaining habitat of the species) found none, but efforts to locate any surviving individuals continued. It is believed that the last western black rhino was killed in 2011. A large part of what is believed to have driven them to the brink of extinction was the fact that poaching was so widespread, and the punishment and efforts behind stopping it were lackluster at best, as those actually caught poaching were never even sentenced. No animals are known to be held in captivity, however it is believed that around 20-30 are being kept for breeding purposes. On November 10, 2011, the subspecies was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- R. Emslie (2011). "Diceros bicornis ssp. longipes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/39319. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
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- Largot, Isabelle. "Probable extinction of the western black rhino, Diceros bicornis longipes: 2006 survey in northern Cameroon". PACHYDERM. http://apps.webofknowledge.com/full_record.do?product=WOS&search_mode=GeneralSearch&qid=2&SID=3EK4j3FObjdgeH8NGd9&page=1&doc=2. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
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