World Rhino Day
Today is World Rhino Day. This is a day meant to raise awareness about the struggles faced by rhinos everywhere. There are five subspecies of rhinos and all of them are in danger. But the situation is the most dire for the northern white subspecies, the most endangered animal on the planet.
Only three northern white rhinos are left in the entire world. The picture below shows Sudan, a 40+ year old elderly rhino and the only remaining male. The other two, Najin and Fatu, are his daughter and granddaughter. All three rhinos have armed guards who stand vigil over them 24/7. These brave individuals are risking their lives to protect these gentle giants.
Just what are they protecting these beasts from? Poachers – cruel people who track rhinos by helicopters and attack them mercilessly.
Northern white rhinos used to roam Kenya in the thousands. Because of the relentless actions of poachers, Sudan, Najin, and Fatu are the last – their species is extinct in the wild. As you can see in the photo, Sudan’s horn was removed to make him a less desirable target to poachers.
How did it come to this?
Rhino horn is worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market. Among Chinese and Vietnamese buyers, rhino horn is a coveted remedy for many ailments, including cancer and hangovers. But rhino horn is no more a remedy than hair or fingernails – all three substances are made of keratin. Facts don’t deter poachers, however: they mutilate rhinos with chainsaws, either killing them outright or leaving them to an agonizing death.
Although efforts to rehabilitate the northern white rhino are underway, with only three closely-related individuals left I can’t help but be skeptical. When Twinkies were threatened with extinction in 2012, the media circus couldn’t stop covering it. People were outraged and saddened. But around that same time a white rhino died, bringing the species one step closer to today’s tragedy. Just a few years prior, Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was murdered by poachers who removed the creature’s head. Vietnam’s Javan rhinos were confirmed extinct in 2011, but in our money-sick society Twinkies are worth more than the natural world.
There is very little that greed has not decimated. Unless a drastic shift in consciousness occurs, the world will be silent except for the noise of cities. Earth isn’t for humans. Animals aren’t for humans. They exist for their own reasons, for their own purposes, and they have a value that money can’t define.
When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.