South Africa is situated on the southern end of the African continent. It covers an area of 471,000 square miles. The nation has plenty of distinct ecological systems where various plants and animals are found. The country hosts some of the endangered mammals like the Black Rhinoceros, Riverine Rabbit, De Winton's Golden Mole, White-Tailed Rat, and the Cape Wild Dog.
South-Central Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor)
The South-Central Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) is a species mainly found in South Africa. An adult stands at the height of 1.4 to 1.8 meters and a length of 3 to 3.75 meters. It usually has a weight range of 800 to 1400 kilograms, but in exceptional cases it can weigh up to 2,800 kilograms. The rhinoceros has two horns on its skull, one longer than the other. The rhinoceros is herbivorous and feeds on shoots, thorny bushes, leafy plants and wild fruits. It has a pointed upper lip that it uses to grasp twigs and wild fruits. The animal has poor eyesight but has an amplified sense of smell and hearing. It is a highly aggressive animal that will charge at any perceived threat. The South-Central Black Rhinoceros is classified as an endangered animal. The main threat to the animal is illegal poaching due to the highly lucrative rhino horn trade. Competing for species and changing habitat also threaten the animal’s existence. Conservation measures include the creation of parks and reserves guarded by armed officers to keep off poachers and the ban on rhino horn trade.
Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis)
The Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) is also referred to as the bushman rabbit. It is a critically endangered mammal with an estimated population of 250 remaining. It only exists in the Karoo Desert in South Africa. It inhabits river basins and vegetation along the river. It feeds on grass, flowers, and leaves. The rabbit has a very low breeding rate whereby the female gives birth to one offspring per year. Its breeding period starts in August and ends in May. The reason for its population decline is the destruction of its habitat, excessive hunting, and predation by feral cats and dogs. Conservation efforts include educating the local community on the importance of the Riverine Rabbit as well as captive breeding in one of the reserves in South Africa.
White-Tailed Rat (Mystromys albicaudatus)
The White-Tailed Rat (Mystromys albicaudatus) is a rare species only found in the grasslands and savannas of South Africa. It stays under the surface and comes out at night. The rat feeds on seeds, insects, and small vegetation. It breeds once or twice a year and has a lifespan of six years. It is on the list of endangered species due to its declining population. The rat’s population has dropped as a result of habitat loss to agriculture and grazing. A small population lives in protected areas. Further research on the species is needed to preserve the animal.
Cape Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus pictus)
The Cape Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus pictus) is a feral dog species native to South Africa. It has orange-yellow fur with black patches on its back. It weighs 20 to 25 kilograms. It inhabits grasslands, savannas, semi-deserts and upland forests. The dog feeds on gazelles, impalas, wildebeest and warthogs. Its reproductive age starts at three years and a lifespan of five years. The Cape Wild Dog is threatened by the loss of habitat to human invaders and increase in infectious diseases. It is an endangered species that requires protection. Conservation strategies include research on the dog’s population, prevention of infectious diseases and reduction of human-wildlife conflict.
Conserving South Africa's Mammals
South African endangered species face the threat of extinction. The country’s authorities have put in measures to preserve the rare species. More research is being done on the endangered animals to improve their chances of survival.