Monday, August 21, 2006


I did the watercolor below after reading about how scientists are now claiming that the West African black rhino is extinct. It wasn't a shock, their numbers had dwindled in the teens for the last ten years, but still it is sobering that they are gone.

I can't help feeling angry at the human race in general for this for several reasons:
  1. While their numbers began first declining when land was taken to cultivate in Africa, rhinos really started becoming scarce when someone got it in their head that their horns would give men erections. So while it was Asian medicine that claimed that, people of all races killed rhinos just for their horns letting the rest rot. A single horn was worth between $30,000 - $100,000 and living beside them are desperate, poor people who could care less how many were left... and all because men want erections. Nice.
  2. I mean the phrase "hunted to extinction" should chill your blood. It wasn't a plague or even that people took all the land away from them, it means a black rhinoceros probably hasn't died of old age in the wild in the last hundred years. Humans killed them until there are no more to kill.
  3. And I get frustrated when I realize there were people and groups and conservationists who wanted to save them and couldn't because of the civil unrest in Africa. Part of me understands when your country is fighting civil wars and people are dying, rhinos aren't your first priority as a government. But I would argue that at when the conflict in that country is finally over there will still be humans, while the black rhino is gone.
  4. And it turns my stomach that the other endangered rhinos, and in fact other animals in Africa, in order to be safe from poachers have to be transplanted to parks and reserves. Is that still even considered "wild" anymore? Are we not just ranchers at this point? I know it's naive of me, but I just wish some of this planet was still untamed.
  5. I don't know why some people aren't moved by this. Extinction happens every day all over the world, most of the time with animals we know little about or aren't as noticeable as a black rhino. It angers me that our country is more concerned about running out of oil than the world running out of species. At least when the oil runs out we can still use alternative fuels. When a species goes extinct, their niche in the worldwide system becomes a hole making it more unstable.
The articles I've read all bring up the same irony over and over: We realize the importance and value of something just as we lose it.

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