An endangered species is a population of an organism (usually a taxonomic species), which because it is either few in number or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters, leaving it at risk of becoming extinct. Many countries have laws offering special protection to these species or their habitats: for example, forbidding hunting, restricting land development or creating preserves.
Only a few of the many endangered species actually make it to the official lists and obtain legal protection.
Many more species become extinct, or potentially will become extinct, without gaining public notice. The greatest factor of concern is the rate at which species are becoming extinct within the last 150 years.
While species have evolved and become extinct on a regular basis for the last several hundred million years, the number of species becoming extinct since the Industrial Revolution has no precedent in biological history. If this rate of extinction continues, or accelerates as now seems to be the case, the number of species becoming extinct in the next decade could number in the millions.
While most people readily relate to endangerment of large mammals or birdlife, some of the greatest ecological issues are the threats to stability of whole ecosystems if key species vanish at any level of the food chain. One such endangered animal is the Black Rhinoceros.
The Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis also colloquially Black Rhino is a mammal in the order Perissodactyla, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Although the Rhino is referred to as a “Black” creature, it is actually more of a grey-white color in appearance. For most of the 20th century the continental black rhino was the most numerous of all rhino species. Around 1900 there were probably several hundred thousand living in Africa. During the later half of the 20th century their number severely reduced from an estimated 70,000 in the late 1960s to only 10,000 to 15,000 in 1981.
In the early 1990s the number dipped below 2500, and in 1995 it was reported that only 2,410 black rhinos remained.
According to the International Rhino Foundation, the total African population has since then slightly recovered to 3,610 by 2003. According to a July 2006 report by the World Conservation Union, a recent survey of the West African Black Rhino, which once ranged across the savannahs of western Africa but had dropped to just 10, concluded the subspecies to be extinct.