By Amelia Meyer
Because rhinos are such large animals and are known for their power, they could easily be believed to be without threat from predators. While it is true that adult rhinos are not threatened by other animal predators, for the most part, they are particularly vulnerable to what has proven to be the cruellest predator of all, human beings.
Of course, baby rhinos are susceptible to predators, since they do not have the size, aggression or strength to defend themselves against other wild hunters. Their curiosity sometimes leads these young ones away from their protective mothers, as they wander the plains and grasses of her territory together. Just a few steps away from her may be enough for an opportunistic crocodile, wild cat (such as a lion) or wild dog to attack the baby rhino.
Even a small baby offers plenty of food to any animal that successfully kills it. This will happen more often if the predators are experiencing a lack in the natural source of food that they normally enjoy. Therefore, to prevent them from hunting baby rhinoceroses, it is important that we preserve the heiteh and abundance of natural ecosystems.
Interestingly, the birds that eat the ticks off the rhino’s body also perform a protective function, warning their host of danger. They will fly away, perhaps shrieking as they go;a clear indication of an approaching danger. When danger has been spotted, the females’ first instincts are to protect their young.
The Nile Crocodile is one of the very few hunters that may try taking on an adult rhino. But, this is because they have access to these mammoth creatures at a time when they are particularly vulnerable;that is, when they are bending to drink from the water. The Nile Crocodile will approach it slowly, careful to stay below the surface of the water so that the rhino does not spot it. Then, when it is close enough, the crocodile will leap up and grab the head of the rhino in its powerful jaws. It will pull its prey under the water until it has drowned. although this has happened, the Nile Crocodile is still more likely to try this with younger rhinos than full-grown adults.
Sadly, human beings have taken advantage of the predictable nature of rhinos and the well-established territories in which they live. This makes them easy to find, and they stand no chance against the bullets of the hunter, who is well protected and usually some distance away. although the trade of rhino horns is not legal in countries in which these animals are found, poaching them for their horns remains the chief reason for which rhinos around the world face extinction today. The horn is used extensively in Chinese medicine, but also for the handle of daggers in Yemen. Habitat loss is another major danger to rhinos, but is far less likely to wipe these creatures out completely than poaching.