Being one of the most endangered species globally, the riverine rabbit lives by the side of rivers located in the areas part of the Karoo desert in South Africa, also known by names bushman rabbit or bushman hare. However, its most common name is “Riverine,” because of the environment where it lives. The riverine rabbits’ population has been declining since their evolution, and only a few of them are left now.
In the lingo of science, it is called “Bunolagus monticularis” and officially it has an order Lagomorpha. However, there is a conflict between expert biologists related to its genus in the family Leporidae. Most people believe that they are from the genus “Lepus,” which is recognized by hares. Certain demonstrations have been made to determine whether the riverine rabbit is truly a hare or just like a hare and has a different genus, to erase the conflict.
|Scientific Name||Bunolagus monticularis|
|Lifespan||4 years in wild|
|Gestation period||35 days|
Now, Let’s move further towards some fascinating aspect and facts related to its life:-
Riverine rabbit characteristics
This rabbit’s main specialty is its long ears, which is not common in most of the rabbits. It has a distinctive dull earthy colored band running at the lower jaw’s edge upwards to the lower part of the ears. The upperparts are a grizzled dreary dim while the sides are somewhat hazier and rufous, where it mixes with the thick silver hair on the underside. The eyes are enclosed with white rings with dim stretched patches over these. Its inner ears are covered with white fur, whereas the outer area has short buffy hairs, and the corners are made of black furs. Its tail is made of grey color, and its tip is slightly darker. It has 28 teeth, which helps it eat its food in a better way.
Where does the Riverine rabbit live?
It lives In the Karoo desert in South Africa. Its habitat is different from other rabbits but a bit similar to swamp rabbits. Likewise, the swamp rabbit lives in the areas that are nearer to water. Thus, it lives along the rivers. If we talk about its habitat in detail, we know that its habitat is almost evoked from the land due to cultivation, agricultural farming, and other factors. In the area of fewer than 500 km2, these rabbits live in the form of scattered segments. The land where they used to live is nearly used up for farming.
Riverine rabbit facts
Let’s know about some fascinating facts of this rabbit:-
- Riverine rabbit is enlisted as the most severe endangered species.
- Its major predators are black eagles and Falconiformes.
- It is capable of a long jump over 1 meter when a predator stalks it.
- To be safe from predators, it lives most of the day inside the soil under a karoo brush.
- Their day dropping is relatively soft than night dropping, and they eat their own droppings.
- They live in the form of piles but hunt alone.
- Their nest is 10-15 cm deep and 25 cm long.
- It produces only one young throughout the year.
Why are there so few Riverine rabbits left?
In 1981, it was enlisted as an endangered species for the first time, and after that, different conservation plans have been done for the rehabilitation of this rabbit. However, it’s habitat is being destroyed, thus making it an extinct. According to research, during the last 70 years, its population has been decreasing and is declined by 60%, and it will be declining further during the 21st century.
But what is the reason behind this? There lie several reasons. One of the major reasons for its decline is its habitat loss. Hunting is another one. Most people hunt them just for the sake of their taste. 50% to 80% of its habitat has totally lost. It is demonstrated that only 250 to 500 rabbits of this species have left.
Riverine rabbit baby
Most of the rabbits we read about produce 4 to 6 young per litter, but this rabbit is different; it produces only one young in the whole year, which is another reason for its decreased population. It has gestation period of 35 days. One more thing that you will find hilarious is its male breeds with more than one female. Yeah! That’s awkward!.
In Africa, it’s the only rabbit bearing its young underground. The newborn baby is blind, deaf and has no fur on its body. According to studies, those rabbits that give birth underground are likely to produce more litters per birth, but in these rabbits, it’s not the same.
Riverine rabbit diet
A special type of salt-containing vegetable is eaten by this rabbit, such as Salsola and lyceum. Their diet depends on the season; with a change in season, their diet also changes. In the wet season, they eat grass and shrubs, flowers, and grasses. You will be amazed to know they eat their own feces along with their conventional food intake. They eat their day time droppings. And this is hilarious but beneficial as well as their feces contain minerals such as calcium and phosphorus plus it also has vitamins due to the bacteria in the hindgut.
Riverine rabbit size
Along with its ears, its size is also bigger; its length can reach up to 12 inches. The female riverine has more weight than the male riverine—the male riverine weights 1.5 kg. At the same time, an adult female can reach up to 1.8 kg.
How many Riverine rabbits left 2020?
Only 250 to 500 riverine rabbits are left now. However, a conservation program for the riverine rabbit has been established by the Endangered Wildlife Trust to ensure its survival and rehabilitation. Along with this, proper policies and guidelines should be regulated to spread awareness in the public related to its extinction. Hunting should be prohibited, and during the conversion of land for agricultural products, such species should be kept in mind.