You are what you eat. And for dwindling numbers of the southern black rhinoceros, that saying is true now more than ever. The black rhino is critically endangered – fewer than 5,500 remain. Without the preservation of rhinos in human care, leading to their successful reintroduction, it’s likely this species will go extinct in the wild. To protect these majestic creatures, researchers are studying how the wrong diet can compromise their immune system and ability to reproduce. To do that, Smithsonian researchers are collaborating with groups in South Africa to get microbe samples from wild black rhinos. This will allow them to gain a better understanding of how to keep this at-risk species as healthy as possible, so we can work toward a future in which rhinos live and thrive in their natural habitat.
The song of the Eastern meadowlark sounds like a flute that drops its pitch—beautiful and distinctive. These days bird enthusiasts hear the meadowlark’s sweet call in the wild less and less, as its population has declined by 70 percent since the 1970s. This is likely because of habitat loss, and conservationists predict the meadowlark’s plight will only be worsened by climate change. To protect this iconic grassland species, known for the bolt of bright yellow around its chest, scientists want to use tiny transmitters to track where they travel year round across North America. That way, they can recommend land conservation in those critical areas, and with your help, we can set the stage for the meadowlark to sing its song in healthy numbers again.