• The horns of rhinoceroses may have become smaller over time from the impact of hunting, according to a recent study which analysed artwork and photographs of the animal spanning more than five centuries.
  • The study, published in the latest edition of People and Nature by the British Ecological Society, relied on a repository of images maintained by the Netherlands-based Rhino Research Center (RRC).
  • “We found evidence for declining horn length over time across species, perhaps related to selective pressure of hunting, and indicating a utility for image-based approaches in understanding societal perceptions of large vertebrates and trait evolution,” said the study, authored by scientists from the Universities of Helsinki and Cambridge, as well as the RRC.

Five species face threat

  • Rhinos have long been hunted for their horns. The five surviving rhino species are threatened by habitat loss and hunting.
  • The study found that the rate of decline in horn length was highest in the critically endangered Sumatran rhino and lowest in the white rhino of Africa, the most commonly found species in the wild and in captivity.
  • This observation follows patterns seen in other animals, such as tusk size in elephants and horn length in wild sheep, which have been driven down by directional selection due to trophy hunting, the study said.
  • The RRC’s repository holds a collection of more than 4,000 rhino images, including artistic portrayals from 1481 and photographs, of which the earliest was taken in 1862.
  • The scientists used this for two research approaches.
  • They studied 3,158 images to assess the changes in representations of rhinos and human interactions with the animal over 500 years.
  • They identified 80 images of all five rhino species, to analyse changes in horn length over time, extracting morphological data from photographs.


About sree nivas

Check Also

What to do with spent nuclear fuel?

Syllabus:  Alternate fuel Context: Japan has started releasing treated radioactive water from the beleaguered Fukushima …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free Updates to Crack the Exam!
Subscribe to our Newsletter for free daily updates