The white rhino is a keystone species that helps increase the biodiversity of grasses and prevents wildfires.
White rhinos are mega-herbivores that graze on vast amount of grasses. Their general diets include thick bush covers and short grasses. Some of the species of grasses they consume are panic grass (Panicum), signal grass (Urochloa), and finger grass (Digitaria), which are commonly found in shady areas of grasslands. They also eat fruits, as well as the leaves, stems, seeds, nuts, and flowers of trees.
White rhinos are considered as keystone species because they help to increase the biodiversity of grasses and potentially prevent wildfires. The grazing of grasses by white rhinoceroses makes grasses so short, wildfire cannot burn the grasses. It’s possible that this indirectly prevents damage to nearby towns.
Furthermore, removal of rhinos from grasslands resulted in the disappearance of 50% of the land-cover of short grasses from the area.
• Image | © Fyre Mael, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY 2.0)
• Sources | (Dulal, 2017; Estes, 1991; Govender, Oosthuisen, & Penzhorn, 2011; Groves, 1972; Nowak, 1999; Penzhorn, et al., 1994; Skinner & Chimimba, 2006; Waldram, Bond, & Stock, 2008)