The rhinoceros is a rare animal, and it is becoming rarer. Some estimates suggest it?
The rhinoceros is a rare animal, and it is becoming rarer. Some estimates suggest it will be extinct by 1990, after its existence on earth for 35-million years. Recently a number of projects have been launched to save the few remaining rhinos. In the forefront of the campaign is the International World Wildlife Fund which is co-ordinating 'Save the Rhino' on a global basis.
SYNOPSIS: Aberdare Mountain National Park in Kenya, and after days of searching, a solitary rhino. Six months earlier, rhinos were easier to find. They could be found at a rate of two day. But poachers continue the slaughter which started eighty years ago and which now threatens to relegate the near-blind, blundering one-ton relic of pre-history to extinction.
Some that were known to be here six months ago have been shot for their horns, their bodies left to rot. Others, made timid by the assaults of poachers, are in hiding. But this individual will be safe because of Kenya's conservation programme.
Dr. Ishtiaq Chawdri checks the animal after it has been tranquillised this project aims to find eighteen rhinos known to be in the area, and transport them to an enclosure safe from the poachers' powerful rifles.
While the rhino is sedated, an identity tag is attached before it is taken by truck to its new enclosure where Dr. Chawdri will revive it. These often expensive relocation programmes, using aircraft and helicopters to search the habitat for survivors of the many decades of hunting, operate in only limited areas. The death toll in one area alone, East Africa, is estimated at two thousand a year. And the rhino's own reproduction rate is not capable of making up the numbers. Most females produce only one calf every two to four years.
The reason for the still intensive hunting of the rhinoceros is its horn, a shaft of tightly packed hair. Each animal usually has two, which together weigh from one and a half to seven kilogrammes (up to eight pounds). Ground into power, it is fabled as an aphrodisiac in Asia and as a medicine to cure anything from toothache to insanity. It is cherished in the Middle East as a symbol of masculine virility when used in the handle of a dagger.
When the horn is taken, the carcass is left behind. The organiser of one campaign to save the rhino says that each year four thousand tons of flesh and bone is left to rot for the sake of only 7.6 tons of useless hair. Chemical tests show the horn has no medicinal properties yet at 260-dollar a kilo it fetches more than ivory.