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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : Rare White Rhinos Face Starvation in Zambia

Rare White Rhinos Face Starvation in Zambia

  Thu Nov 7, 6:04 AM ET

LUSAKA, Zambia (Reuters) - Zambia's five rare white rhinos are facing starvation due to a drought that has nearly destroyed grazing pastures in the famine-threatened southern African country, officials said Thursday.

The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) said the drought had already claimed 48 other wild animals in the Musi-O-Tunya national park in southern Zambia since June.

"The drought has been very harsh to wild animals...Such a situation poses a serious threat to our wildlife including the white rhino," said ZAWA acting director-general Mukela Muyunda.

"Because of the decreasing pasture levels, we have noticed spectacular weight loss (among the white rhinos) which is not good for their survival and reproduction," Muyunda told Reuters.

Muyunda said ZAWA would provide the animals with food supplements, but their long-term survival depended on normal rain patterns returning to the area.

Zambia imported the five white rhinos in 1994, after its previous population was wiped out by poachers seeking its horn, which is prized in Asia as a medical ingredient and in Yemen for carving dagger handles.

The white rhino is the world's second largest land mammal, but numbers only a few thousand with most of them living in South Africa.

Both the white rhino and its smaller and rarer relative, the black rhino, are actually gray in color. The white rhino is a grazer while the black rhino browses on trees.

More than 14 million people in southern Africa are facing critical food shortages in six countries due to drought and bad government policies.



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