Insane Rhino Conservation Idea Might Just WorkPosted on October 7th 2018
It might sound absolutely insane given the long history Australia has had with introducing invasive species, but conservationists are seriously considering introducing rhinos now. Many people make think that idea is completely potty but all five species of rhinos in the world across Africa and Asia are increasingly under attack from habitat destruction and poaching. Rhinos are a species that used to dominate the planet but are now one of the most endangered animals on Earth.
Nearly hunted to extinction
The Sumatran Rhino for example is so rare that conservationists will not reveal the exact locations where the species is still found in order to prevent poachers from hunting them to extinction. Javan Rhinos used to be found all over Asia but is now one of the rarest species on the planet with just 60 remaining in Western Java. The Black Rhino used to roam freely across much of Eastern and Southern Africa but its population has fallen significantly. The White Rhino and its two-sub species has had mixed fortunes.
Some light in the dark
The Southern White Rhino has seen its population recover from just 20 individuals 100 years ago to more than 20,000 today after intense conservation, whilst the Northern White Rhino is all but extinct with the last male dying this year and only two captive females remaining. Scientists are trying to save the species through in-vitro fertilisation and hope to implant an embryo into a female to prevent extinction. All of this means that countries that serve as home to populations of rhinos are experiencing profound difficulties conserving them especially since a rhino horn can fetch as much as US$300,000.
Rhinos are easy prey for poachers because they are predictable, large and near sighted. The countries they live in are usually poor and many people have access to weapons. Many conservation programs have resorted to de-horning rhinos to stop their slaughter. Alternatively, some populations are assigned guards who watch over them 24 hours a day. Whilst these measures do help it is still a battle fraught with difficulties. As a result, many experts have come to believe that the most viable short-term solution is captive breeding programmes.
A crazy idea?
One suggestion as was mentioned earlier is to introduce rhinos to Australia. Many people may scoff at the idea but the country has savannas, woodlands and rain forests in abundance which makes it ideal for the various species to survive. Rhinos aren’t particular about what they eat, Australia can ensure that people don’t poach and it is highly likely they would attract thousands of tourists every year. The Australia Rhino Project has already embarked on efforts to establish a White Rhino population in the country.
The situation is desperate
Nobody is suggesting that rhinos will be permitted to freely roam across Australia because that could result in the species damaging the ecosystem and becoming a danger to humans. Instead rhinos should be kept in enclosed areas such as cattle stations. Introducing rhinos to Australia should not mean the end of conservation efforts in their natural habitats either. Instead the plan would be to introduce a managed population that would prevent the species from becoming extinct. No doubt this is a controversial idea, nevertheless it is worth thinking about because the situation is indeed desperate and something needs to be done.