Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Brave Rhinoceros

Welcome back to the blog everybody! As always, I’ll start with a few updates.

Now, Christmas is only 47 days away, not a long time at all! Also, for those of you who are really excited, the latest stop-motion movie project, “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino” is officially 99.9% finished! Alright, technically, the remaining 1% is for putting it on YouTube so I can put it on the blog. So it should be on for viewing next week (and believe me, you have to put it on YouTube first before putting it on the blog because otherwise, it doesn’t work or something).

Another cool thing that’s happening in the upcoming weeks is that we are my Mom, Angel, my sister and I are going to be selling stuff at an upcoming craft’s fair! I’ve been to a number of craft’s fair’s before between the years of 2010 and 2012. The first one was not at all a success, I sold next to nothing and we stood out there in the freezing cold and the blowing wind. But, that was the first one. Since then, I’ve been to craft fairs with a much better outcome. So what do I sell? Well, not only do I write, sing and make stop-motion movies, I was also blessed with pretty good drawing abilities. I draw some pretty cool pictures of dinosaurs. That’s normally all I sell at craft fairs and sometimes that doesn’t go all too well because the market is not there at times. The only problem with these events is that you never know what the majority of people will want to buy. But that’s why I’m not only selling dinosaur pictures, I’m also as of the last craft fair, going to be selling dinosaur postcards AND as of this upcoming craft fair, I’m going to be promoting the book I wrote called “THE KING ON A CROSS”. I won’t be selling the book there, just promoting it and handing out my handy dandy business cards. Next Thursday (which is two days before the craft fair) I’ll set the new pictures I’ve drawn on the blog for your viewing pleasure. Wow, looks like next week is going to be a busy week!

Other than that, not a whole lot has been going on around here (my sister, Halle and I are homeschooled, so it’s not like we go to regular school where stuff happens regularly, not that I don’t like homeschool, but I’m just making a point).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, have you noticed the fish swimming at the top of the page? Be sure to feed them when you visit. Simply tap the fish tank to feed them.

Besides the elephant, the largest land mammal on the planet today is called Ceratotherium simum, aka the White Rhinoceros. The white rhino can stand six feet tall at the shoulder, stretch 12-13 feet long from nose to tail and weigh 2 ½ tons! At least, those are the males that weigh that much female white rhinos weigh half a ton less.
A white rhinoceros mother and calf

A pair of white rhinoceros
One of the most noticeable things on a rhino is no doubt its horn. The white rhino’s horn grows over four feet long. Believe it or not, the horn is not part of the rhino’s skeleton. As a matter of fact, it isn’t bone at all! It’s made up of keratin, the same stuff that makes up your fingernails and hair. So a rhino horn is merely hardened hair that ends at a point (see my point?). They use that horn mainly for fighting.

What large horns you have Mr. White Rhino!

The original range of the white rhino
The white rhino's present range, the brown color represents their native range, the pink represents their reintroduced range, and the red represents their introduced range.
These rhinos are also the most social of the rhino species, the females and adolescent and sub-adults often live in small herds. Mature males on the other hand prefer to go it alone. Notice I did say rhino species. There are five different species of rhino living on the planet today. These species are:

Black Rhinoceros

Indian Rhinoceros

Javan Rhino (I couldn't find a better picture, sorry about that)

Sumatran Rhino
As you may have noticed, they don’t all have large horns. The white rhino and its close cousin the black rhino live in Africa, but all the others live in South Eastern Asia. Another interesting thing about rhinos is that the black and white rhino can’t be told apart by the color of their skin, because it’s very similar in color, contrary to what their name suggests. So how did the names come about? Well, when settlers first came to Africa, they noticed that some of the rhinos had wide-lips and were called wide-lipped rhinos, but when translated into English, it was mistakenly translated as white rhino. So the name stuck. The white rhino has that wide muzzle because of its diet: it feeds on grass. Meanwhile the black rhino has a pointed upper lip because it prefers to nibble on trees and shrubs. That pointed lip makes it easier to grab branches and leaves to pull toward its mouth.

The Black Rhinoceros uses that pointed upper lip to grab food from tree branches, or the hands of 13-year old girls like the male rhino in this picture is doing! Have YOU ever hand fed a rhino?
The rhino can run up to 30 mph and this can be bad at times because rhinos have been known to puncture safari jeep doors! Part of the reason rhinos are so ferocious (other than all their testosterone) is because they have terrible eyesight. They will treat just about any movement as a threat. Notice I said just about any movement. Rhinos have a great sense of smell to determine if it knows what the movement is. For instance, if a mother rhino smells its baby, it won’t attack the baby. Or another example is that a herd of rhinoceros don’t normally go attacking each other (unless it’s mating season and the rhinos fighting are males). A mother rhinoceros of any species will defend a baby with all her might.

A mother and baby rhino. Can you tell if they are black or white rhinos?
Today, there are only five or so species of rhinoceros. But at one time, there were many more species that have since gone extinct. They even once spread through North America, and Europe, along with their African and Asian ranges. They even lived in the icy polar regions. Here are a few examples:

Woolly Rhinoceros


See, the rhino family is very diverse. And yet, these rhinos did not evolve into one species of another. No, this is simply a case of natural selection. As you may have noticed, not all rhinos had horns.

Elephants are the largest land mammals alive today, but it wasn’t always this way. No, there once was a species of rhino that towered over the elephant. It is called the Indricotherium (see above, pronounced in-droe-cath-ere-ee-um). Indricotherium weighed an astonishing 18 tons and stood 20 feet tall from head to toe. This behemoth didn’t spend its time eating grasses and small shrubs; it was feeding on trees in the region of Mongolia where it lived. This rhinoceros didn’t have horns – it didn’t need them! It’s size alone was a formidable defense. The largest predators of the area, Hyenodon, was the size of a modern rhino and was by no means large enough to tackle an Indricotherium.

The Indricotherium went extinct thousands of years ago (so did the Woolly Rhinos you see above but we’ll talk about those later), but the other species of rhinos managed to cling on . . . that is until the 19th and 20th century came around, that is! Humans started killing the rhinos in massive numbers with their guns. Why? Well, they want the horn. Rhino horns are made of keratin, and keratin can sell for a pretty price in some countries. So after killing the rhino, people leave the body to rot. The number of rhinos dropped dramatically and so when people finally figured this out, they put it on the endangered species list! Happy endings right? Well, not quite. Even though it’s illegal to shoot rhinos today, some people, called poachers, kill them anyway. This isn’t helping the population of rhinos at all. So what did people do?

Well, now armed rangers and wardens can catch poachers in the act and arrest them. They also have set up special reserves where the rhinos can be safe from poachers (and the rangers still keep a close watch on them because sometimes poachers will sneak into the reserves). They even can painlessly remove the horn from a rhino to temporarily deter poachers, it does grow back however. Many of these things people are doing to help have helped the rhino population greatly. Some populations have steadied, while others, as the case of most white rhino populations, is slowly growing! This in and of itself is an amazing feat! But poachers are still out there, did you know you can help too? Helping the rhinos isn’t always as dangerous as going out into the reserves themselves and stopping poachers, in can be done right at home. Here’s what you can do: if you see products made from rhino horns (such as little figurines), don’t buy them. Besides, they are normally rather pricey anyway. And if you are offered something made from rhino horns, also don’t accept and politely tell that person why we shouldn’t buy that stuff. If people start to care about the rhino, then they’ll stop buying the products, and if they stop buying, the poachers don’t make any money killing rhinos, so they are forced to stop killing these amazing creatures God created.

Thanks for stopping by today. Please be sure to come back next Thursday to see, not only what you’ll be reading next, but also the pictures I am selling at the craft fair AND (it never ends does it) the next stop-motion film: “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino”. See you next time!

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