Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Climate change threatens Africa’s rhinos » Yale Climate Connections


In the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, few animals are as instantly recognizable as the rhinoceros.

But both black and white rhinos have been under intense pressure from poaching and habitat loss, which have pushed these species close to extinction.

And a new study warns that rhinos now face another threat — climate change.

National parks like Kruger in South Africa and Etosha in Namibia, home to some of the last rhinos in Africa, are expected to get hotter in coming decades.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts say that could be deadly for the animals. Rhinos don’t sweat, so they rely on shade and muddy wallowing pools to stay cool.

Randhir: “Rhinos need really unique conditions.”

Timothy Randhir is one of the study’s authors.

He says in addition to addressing poaching and habitat loss, wildlife managers need to take steps to protect rhinos from the heat.

Randhir: “That has to be also a part of rhino restoration and rhino conservation.”

He says wildlife managers could help keep rhinos cool by providing extra shade and wallowing areas.

So the parks can provide a safe haven for these horned giants as the climate warms.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman / ChavoBart Digital Media


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