FaunaFocus
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Fossils and cave paintings in Kenya and northern Tanzania suggest that the white rhinoceros was widespread in East Africa until 3,000 years ago.

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The southern white rhino was on the brink of extinction in 1895, having been reduced to less than 50 animals, but now has a population of over 20,000.

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Although illegal hunting only impacted 0.2% of white rhinos in 2005, poaching has increased over 3,000% and is beginning to threaten the sustainability of the species.

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Numbers of white rhino under private ownership continue to increase, numbering at least 5,500 by the end of 2010.

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White rhinoceros mothers are the sole caregivers of the young for 2-3 years, while males have no parental investment on calves beyond the mating process.

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Due to poaching and civil wars, the northern white rhinoceros subspecies is considered extinct in the wild.

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Female white rhinoceroses are slightly smaller than males and have longer and thinner horns.

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98.8% of white rhino occur in just four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

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Rhino horn is highly prized for making ornately carved handles for jambiyas, ceremonial daggers worn in some Middle East countries.

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There are an estimated 20,000 white rhino in the wild and 750 in captivity worldwide.

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There are more white rhinoceros on private land in South Africa than there are rhino in the whole of the rest of Africa.

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The southern white rhino is the most numerous of the rhino taxa.

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Two subspecies of the white rhinoceros are recognized: the southern white rhino, (SWR) C. s. simum, and the northern white rhino, (NWR) C. s. cottoni.

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With only three individuals left, the northern white rhino has little chance of surviving extinction unless inter-crossing with the southern white rhino is introduced.

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There is debate whether the northern white rhino should be considered a separate species, rather than a subspecies, of the white rhinoceros.

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White rhinoceros are Near Threatened due to illegal poaching as a result of organized criminal syndicates, increased black market prices, and nontraditional medicinal uses of rhino horn.

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Generally the top predator, axolotls will eat anything they can catch, including molluscs, fishes, and arthropods.

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Invasive species, such as tilapia and carp, negatively impact wild axolotls through competition, predation, and the spread of disease.

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Axolotls are an important research animal and are used in studies of the regulation of gene expression, embryology, neurobiology, and regeneration.

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The traditional consumption of the axolotl by local people, is threatening the survival of the species.

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Although there are many captive axolotl, the re-introduction of captive-bred axolotls is not recommended until threats, disease, and genetic risks can be mitigated.

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Male and female axolotls can be distinguished by the cloaca and the plumpness of the body.

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Despite its status in the wild, the axolotl is one of the most widely used and studied animals in laboratories and aquaria around the globe.

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Female axolotl lay up to 1,000 eggs every 3-6 months in freshwater plants, like many other amphibians.

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Nearly all modern laboratory axolotls can be traced back to 33 animals shipped from Xochimilco to Paris in 1864.

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The closest relative of the axolotl is the tiger salamander; viable offspring can even be produced between the two species.

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Axolotls can regenerate new limbs, tails, and even heart and brain cells, making them a research opportunity for long-term human health.

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Because known populations are few and far between, little is known about the ecology and natural history of axolotls.

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Axolotls are excellent lab specimens as they are easy to raise and inexpensive to feed, yet yield amazing research opportunities.

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Because they are neotenic, adult axolotls retain the feathery external gills and finned tails from their juvenile stages.

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Axolotls are one of 5 paedomorphic, neotenic aquatic salamanders, meaning they do not undergo metamorphosis and retain larval characteristics while living permanently in water.

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Even though there is a supply of captive-bred axolotls, wild ones are still being caught and sold illegally for human consumption, medicinal uses, and pets.

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The axolotl is critically endangered due to a small area of occupancy, fragmented distribution, and a continuing decline in habitat and number of mature individuals.