Western Black Rhinoceros, subspecies of Black Rhinoceros
I probably should have known about it sooner, after all I read a lot of news, but somehow I missed that the Western Black Rhino, sub-species of black rhinoceros, was declared extinct – reported by the BBC (and others) in November 2011.
Of course I know about the problem of poaching, I’ve seen an uptick in anti-rhino protests on the newsfeed, in the mainstream media, but had I encountered this story, I’d have said something sooner.
This tragedy was reported two years ago — the last Western Black Rhino was probably seen last in 2006, and I can’t seem to find out at a glance what was going on in the world then, but was it as important as yet another extinct species that didn’t die out because of natural reasons, predators, because their habitat died, or they couldn’t adapt.
The Western Black Rhino died at the hands of people who have lost their humanity, and who are so severely wounded at an intrinsic level, so much so that they feel that it’s perfectly fine to mutilate an animal to exchange cold-hard cash for a single body part — often leaving the rest of the carcass to rot in secret shame.
Instead of running around being psychos, they could expand cities, grow food, breed animals, work the land, build houses, tend garden, run shops, sell goods, make goods, make a pleasant environment for tourists, work in schools, secure, police, new sports grounds, coach sports teams, sell cars … etc. Africa needs a lot of work – it’s very dusty.
But they can’t. Something stops them. They can’t even see that in the kill that they’ve so bravely handled with guns, is valuable meat that could feed a whole village for a few days. This is the one side of the tragedy.
On the flip side, the Western Black Rhino died by desperate predators, because people on another continent – completely unrelated to Africa – believe that powdered rhino horn is a cure for many things.
We can put people in Space, charter courses to Mars, take photos of the furthest edges of the western spiral arm of the Universe. Communicate wirelessly across vast distances – no problem. Purchase trinkets, knick-knacks and even donate to conservation charities from our handheld devices.
We have millions of dollars and pounds worth of explosives stocked and packed into combustible formats – no, not to eat silly – repeat after me, “food is a finite resource” – but to drop upon countries so far away that it doesn’t really penetrate, because the victims are always counted but never named.
Cameras track our every bowel movement, public outcry abounds about whistleblowers who can’t keep their gobs shut – and hide in spurious places, while the daily nut gallery is neck deep in peanut shells by noon, and some truly strange people make celebrity status for very little reason than they lived in a house, or an island, or went down a waterfall in a barrel — scrap the last one, people aren’t allowed to do that anymore.
The technology to take DNA samples exists and we could theoretically manufacture a whole new herd. But the new herd will never be the real thing. The rank ‘subspecies’, will change to ‘clonedspecies’ – a permanent black mark on our collective history and maybe the only way we’ll remember.
While we were all out shouting the odds, living life, stressing over debt, having arguments, pursuing or avoiding all our endeavours – the Last Real Western Black Rhino slipped quietly into the night and the whole subspecies is gone forever, and sadly, hardly missed, begging the eternal questions — What do we hold dear and Are our priorities aligned?
Last thoughts, consider for a moment, the death of the last Western Black Rhino ever…
To be the last of your species, with nothing left to mourn your passing, killed without the killer realising that he was taking the life of the last one.
Give it a moment to sink in.
Lonely, isn’t it?
Goodbye Western Black Rhino, you are missed.
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Below, I’ve provided a list of brilliant articles, and also you can search for even more using your favourite engine if you’re so inclined.
The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow, saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation, reports CNN.
Unfortunately, the western black rhino will not be the last rhino species or subspecies that we lose. The Javan rhino subspecies in Vietnam was also declared extinct in 2011. The northern white rhino is down to its last seven, non-breeding, aged adults. The main Javan rhino species is down to fewer than 50 individuals and the Sumatran rhino has fewer than 200. The remaining three black rhino subspecies as a whole are considered critically endangered (one subspecies is listed as “vulnerable to extinction,” although its population is still quite low). The Indian one-horned rhino and the southern white rhino both enjoy healthier populations, but with poaching levels seemingly increasing almost every day, even they may not last long.
This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt. I took license because none of the third stories were ones I wanted to write about. I was chatting to a dear friend this morning, and she asked if I’d heard about the Western Black Rhino… I hadn’t. So thanks M.