They look like ancient beasts. Something that could have lived with dinosaurs. With wrinkled hides and horns, the rhinoceros has always been a fascinating animal to me, which is why the news that the last living male northern black rhinoceros falling ill this week strikes such a chord. If he dies, any hope of saving his subspecies of rhino dies with him. A sad day indeed.

In case you didn’t know, there are five subspecies of rhinoceros. Both the black and white rhino live in Africa and have been hunted within an inch of extinction. The Sumatran, Javan, and Indian rhinos live in the jungles of Asia. Their status is less critically threatened but they are still vulnerable due to habitat loss.

The word rhinoceros literally means “nose horn” for obvious reasons. Javan and Indian rhinos have one horn whereas their rhinoceros cousins have two. I think they just like standing out from the crowd because diversity is awesome.

Rhino mom and child

These horned beasts are herbivores and are more gentle giants than beasts, although they will charge at anything that spooks them. They prefer to feed at dawn, dusk, and during the cooler hours of the night.  Rhinos, like myself, are solitary creatures. Occasionally they live in groups, especially the white rhinoceros. A group of rhinos is called a CRASH (my second favorite group name right after a murder of crows).

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 500,000 rhinos on earth. Today there are less than 29,000. The black rhinoceros will most likely be extinct in our lifetime. If this saddens you as much as it does me and you would like to help the rhino survive, please visit the World Wildlife Fund’s website. The WWF works around the world to protect animal species and habitats and helps fight the effects of climate change.

Since the rhinoceros has been such a big inspiration to my artwork, I donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my artwork to the WWF. If you would like to know more please visit my Etsy page.

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