Africa’s Black Rhino Driven to Extinction

Very sad news to learn of the confirmed extinction of Africa’s western black rhino.  The black market for rhino horn, which fetches upward of $1,400 an ounce for medicinal witch-doctory in countries like Vietnam, where demand is at its highest, was a death sentence for this species.  According to CNN reports,

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

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.

“In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement.

“These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction,” Stuart added.

Consumption of powdered rhino horn carries considerable panache among the Vietnamese wealthy, who use it for its purported but debunked talismanic powers to cure cancer and offer as an all-purpose health tonic.  And while we can condemn the baleful and ruinous actions of the African poachers, no doubt motivated by a staggering black-market value and big sums of money, equally, if not more, culpable are those whose insatiable appetites fueled the senseless slaughter of this beautiful animal.

Most of us don’t like to deal with unhappy stories like this, but it serves as another stark reminder of the darker-side of human behavior, the need for more aggressive conservation efforts, and the plight to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade which, according to the World Wildlife Fund, is experiencing a new global spike.  While tragically it’s too late for the black rhino, more must be done to stop the illegal trade that remains one of the more serious threats to wildlife around the world.