Another one of Earth’s majestic creatures has bitten the dust forever.
The western black rhino, a subspecies of the black rhino, was declared extinct last month by The International Union for Conservation of Nature, as no sightings of the creature have been reported since 2006. The blame rests entirely on us humans, or more specifically, on the greed of humans.
The western black rhino, which lived for millennia in the southern part of Africa, was killed off by the ceaseless efforts of poachers. According to a May 7, 2013 article in Earth First News, the horns are desired because of a superstition in some countries that they can cure or prevent everything from cancer to a headache after a night of too much drinking.
According to the conservation site SavetheRhino.org, the rich elite in Asian countries have a high demand for the rhino horn as a symbol of wealth. The horn is ground up and used in a tonic drink. Traditional Chinese medicine has long used rhino horn to treat high fevers and convulsions, as well as clearing out toxins from alcohol consumption.
Affluent persons in Vietnam are the population who most frequently use rhino tonic as a hangover cure, but also to help treat cancer as cultural superstition recommends. According to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, evidence strongly suggests the promotion of claims of the miracle curative powers of the rhino horn is simply a contemptuous marketing ploy to increase the profitability of the trade. It seems pretty ridiculous for an entire species to die due to a false superstition and the profit that can be made by playing off fear.
Poachers hunt in national parks, sometimes bribing park rangers to give them more information on where rhinos are usually seen. A May 2, 2013 article in the Associated Press outlined an interview with Antonio Abacar, the warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Mozambique. Abacar told the AP that game rangers have been aiding poachers, and 30 of the park’s 100 rangers will soon be in court to face the allegations. The same article alleged that poachers pay the rangers up to 3,000 meticai ($96 U.S. dollars) a month.
Other species of rhino are also at risk of extinction. The Javan rhino, which lives throughout Southeast Asia, is the most threatened of the remaining rhino species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Vietnam’s very last Javan rhino was poached in 2010.
Joining forces with conservationists and being more mindful about where our money goes are the best ways to support preservation of endangered species. The World Wildlife Fund serves to try and protect the species that need help through single animal adoption and pushing legislature toward a more wildlife-friendly future.
It’s a sad time for environmentalists, as time and time again we must be faced with the grim reminder of our effect on the planet and its inhabitants. The rhino has only one natural predator: man that has gone mad for money.