Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Each week I try to bring you information about an endangered animal. Throughout the holiday, I was looking for an animal that I thought would be of interest. This particular animal seemed to seek me out. It was in the news and I saw a number of pictures and posts about it. I saw one picture that struck me, and not in a good way. I am not positing that picture, but it had such an impact on me that I promised to make him the subject of this week’s post. Before we introduce him, let’s mention the phrase ‘critically endangered,’ I’ve used it a lot, but I want to make sure everyone understands the meaning of this categorization. So let’s take a look at how Arkive.org and the Int’l Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) define ‘critically endangered.’

“Critically Endangered species are those that are considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. This is the highest threat category assigned to wild-living species, and generally refers to those that have suffered a very large and rapid decline in either population size or geographic range.” http://arkive.org

According to the IUCN*, the definition of ‘critically endangered is:

“A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria... for Critically Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”  http://www.iucn.org

When we hear the term ‘endangered,’ we tend to think of mammals, maybe a frog or two, perhaps the occasional lizard, but there are plants and bugs as well that are endangered. It’s much easier for us to wrap our minds around, and feel concern for a cuddly Panda than a snail or prickly plant. However, endangerment of species should be a concern across taxa (category of organisms). We are connected and our survival surely depends on theirs.

This week, we’ll take a look at a mammal that is under attack by humans. I would like you to take a moment to consider the plight of the Rhinoceros.

The Black Rhinoceros is critically endangered.  Most of the other species of Rhino are also threatened to some extent. The below information is provided by the World Wildlife Fund. It offers a good summary of the status of Rhino species in the wild. 

African species
            Black Rhino: 4,880 (2010)
            IUCN Red List Classification: Critically Endangered
            White Rhino: Approx 20,000, up from fewer than 100 in 1900
            IUCN Red List Classification: Near Threatened

Asian species 
            Greater-one horned: 2,913 
            IUCN Red List Classification: Vulnerable
            Javan: No more than 50
            IUCN Red List Classification: Critically Endangered
            Sumatran: Fewer than 200
            IUCN Red List Classification: Critically Endangered

The Vietnam Javan Rhino is extinct, and the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011.

We now need to guard certain populations of Rhinos in order to ensure their survival. That is a sad commentary on what humans have done in order to satisfy what they consider their needs. In some cases, it’s pure greed.

Western Black Rhino (photo credit: Thinkstock)

As we enter the New Year, we tend to reflect on the successes, failures and ways to correct issues that plagued us in the previous year. Let’s take a moment this year to also reflect on wildlife and consider our responsibilities to it.  We must learn to live in harmony with life on our planet. It’s a matter of survival.

My sincere thanks to Arkive and the WWF for all their efforts in bringing attention to wildlife around the globe.

A very Happy and Healthy New Year to all my readers.
Thanks for stopping by.

Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

Citations & References: Please visit the below sites for more information.