California’s rhinos are at risk of extinction after a new study has warned the species could be hit with extinction within a decade.
The study by conservationists warns that the species is in danger of being wiped out within 10 years.
The researchers said the population is in an “extremely critical state” and warned that without urgent intervention, there is a “high probability” that the population could plummet by 20 per cent in the next five years.
“The population is rapidly approaching a critical point, and a drastic reduction in rhino numbers would likely be devastating,” the report said.
“It is also likely that the current rhino population in California will not recover.”
Rhinoceros populations have been on a steep decline since the mid-1980s.
We estimate that in the coming decade, rhino populations could be down to fewer than 1,500 individuals in California.
“In the wild, rhinos make a living primarily on rhino horn, which they use for traditional medicine.”
Their horns are harvested for their horns and other products, but they also sell their horn to consumers, such as China, Thailand and Australia.
“Demand for rhino horns has been on the rise in recent years, and this is likely to increase further in the years to come.”
Rhinos are the most critically endangered of all mammals.
They have been targeted by the ivory trade since the 1960s and poachers have killed up to 5,000 rhinos a year in the past three decades.
“There is no question that the rhino’s population is currently in the midst of a crisis, and we have a lot of work to do,” said the study’s lead author Dr Paul Dettmann.
“We are currently at the very beginning of this crisis, but we have already lost a significant number of rhinos.”
The team looked at all areas of rhino habitat in California, including all wildlife corridors, reserves and national parks, as well as in protected areas such as national parks and national wildlife refuges.
They found that the vast majority of rhinoceros in California are now considered in decline, with fewer than 50 remaining in some areas.
The report said that while the population of the western black rhino in the state has increased by almost 70 per cent since 1994, it was estimated that only about 4,500 of the animals remained in the wild.
“A significant portion of the remaining population is now in the most critical condition, and the remaining wild population is highly vulnerable to extinction,” it said.
The scientists believe that if they are not able to help, it is possible that the state will experience a total extinction within 10 to 15 years.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) said the agency was working closely with conservationists and stakeholders to assess the threat to the population.”DFW is in close contact with conservation partners and conservation agencies across the state to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect this precious resource,” she said.
“While the study did not identify the exact population level at which rhino is at risk, we have been in close dialogue with conservation groups and the scientific community to provide our resources to address the concerns of conservationists, including the threat posed by the loss of rhindoral habitat.”
As part of our ongoing efforts to help address the threat of extinction, we are working to develop strategies to reduce the impact of poaching, the use of illegal wildlife trafficking and habitat loss.
“However, the threat continues to exist and we need to do all we can, together with the public, to protect these important natural resources.”
“If we are not careful, we will all pay a heavy price.”