White Rhino grazing at Monate Lodge

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rhino, the modern day dinosaur - Myths and Facts

Rhinos have been in existence for more than 50 million years having once roamed North America and Europe as well as Africa and Asia. They have survived many geographical eras’ including the earth’s most recent ice age which began around two and a half million years ago. Yet their numbers are now being rapidly depleted at the hands of man, with three of the five rhino species on the critically endangered list, extinction is looming.

Awareness of the plight of the rhino and conservation efforts from even the smallest of game farms such as Monate Lodge, who brings you this information in support of preserving these majestic animals.

Here are some interesting facts on this modern day dinosaur…

Rhino Facts:
  • There are five species of rhinoceros:
-          The African Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) - Critically Endangered
-          The African White rhino (Ceratotherium) – Near threatened
-          Indian/Greater one-horned rhino (rhinoceros unicornis) - Vulnerable
-          Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) – Critically endangered
-          Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) – Critically endangered
  • The greater one-horned and white rhino species are the largest of the rhinos and can easily weigh up to 2 721 Kilograms while the Sumatran is the smallest of the species and weighs in at a maximum of 109 Kilograms.
  • Rhino horns are made of keratin, the very same material that makes up our hair and fingernails, thus having no medicinal qualities.
  • The word rhinoceros comes from the Old Greek, rhino (nose) and ceros (horn), meaning horned nose.
  • A group of rhinos is called a “crash”.
  • Rhino pregnancy lasts for 15 – 16 months.
  • Despite being large and heavy rhinos are fast and agile; they can reach speeds of up to 40 - 65 Kilometers per hour and navigate a 180° turn with ease and accuracy.
  • Dependent on the species rhinos can live to be 35 – 50 years old.
  • Rhinos are the second largest land mammals after the elephant.
  • Rhinos have three toes on each foot and are referred to pachyderms along with elephants and hippos though they are actually more closely related to tapirs and horses which are odd-toed ungulates.

Common myths surrounding rhino horn are responsible for the rapid decline in their population in recent years. Over 1400 rhinos have suffered a cruel death at the hands of man from 2006 to 2009, with their horns being traded on the black market. A further 333 rhinos were poached in Africa in 2010 and a further 186 have been poached to date during 2011.

Myths of the horn:
  • Contrary to western belief rhino horn is not used as an aphrodisiac in Asian medicine.
  • In Eastern Asia, particularly China it is believed that rhino horn has medicinal qualities and it is used for many ailments including flu, pain, fever, laryngitis, malaria, nausea, toothache and more.
  • It is now also believed to be a curative for Cancer as well as heart disease and dementia in the Asian countries; this has not been medically proven.
  • Common myth would have it that rhinos stamp out forest fires, this is however not the case.
  • Some cultures regard the rhino horn as a symbol of sexual power due to the size of the rhino penis and sexual stamina; it is believed that if the rhino horn is ingested their sexual powers will be transferred.

The outlook is bleak for this age old species if people continue to encourage and indulge the belief of myths such as these. The extinction of rhinos will have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem. Rhino dung enriches soil nutrition and structure; it contains seed that germinates its own ready-made pile of fertilizer. They also dig wallows, creating pools of water that benefit other species such as frogs and insects that need them in order to complete their lifecycles. As one of the “Big Five” rhinos contribute hugely to our tourism economy, money that funds the conservation of all protected species.

Monate Lodge in Limpopo suffered a heart breaking loss in October 2009 when one of their young female rhinos was poached. This prompted them to become active in anti-poaching efforts and to share information on this modern day dinosaur and their plight. To see some of these majestic animals at Monate or for more information on their conservation efforts please contact them on 014 718 7000 or visit www.monatelodge.com.

Issued on behalf of:                    Monate Game Lodge
Issued by:                                  Magna Carta      Contact:                                              HeikeRaatz                         Email:heike@magna-carta.co.za


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