Western Black Rhino Extinct – One Fourth of Earth’s Mammals at Risk

The  International Union for Conservation of Nature  (IUCN)  declared the Western Black Rhino  officially extinct after a recent assessment of several rhinoceros species.  Two other subspecies of rhino were also on the brink of extinction.  It’s a sobering reminder of the fragility of life. Despite conservation efforts, the IUCN  reports that 25% of the world’s mammals are at risk of extinction.   The IUCN blames the extinction on a “lack of political support and will power for conservation efforts in many rhino habitats”. Whatever the reasons, the reality is that we lost a beautiful animal never to be seen again  with human eyes.

Western Black Rhino
Courtesy Nowpublic.com

‘We are responsible for protecting the species’

Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, said, “Human beings are stewards of the earth and we are responsible for protecting the species that share our environment.” This appears to be a difficult message to get across, especially when you consider how much illegal poaching of animals still occurs. It is especially frustrating to think that these extinctions were preventable. Stuart went on to say. “In the case of both 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.”

‘A Glint of Hope’

There is a glint of hope in the midst of these tragedies. When conservation programs are put into place, wonderful things can happen. For example, the  Southern White Rhino was thought to have a population of less than 100 at the end of the 19th century. Due to conservation efforts, that population has increased to over 20,000.  Przewalski’s horse (pictured below) is another success story. Back in 1996, the horse was considered extinct in the wild. Now there are as many as 300 known to exist.

Przewalski's Horse
Courtesy Wikipedia

Such a widespread and overwhelming issue can make one feel powerless to help. However, if we, as individuals, do what we can, things can get better. A great place to start, that is often overlooked, is your local zoo. I am proud to say that my local zoo, The Lousiville Zoo, played a part in the comeback of the Southern White Rhino due to its participation in the Species Survival Plan. Supporting reputable organizations such as these is simple. You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference, either. Just get involved. Even if it is simply volunteering to teach children, you never know when that child might become the politician who influences conservation policy, or the billionaire developer that develops with the environment in mind.

It is my hope that, in some small way, my words today will inspire someone to do more to be a better steward of the world in which we live. To me, it isn’t about politics or activism. It’s about everyday people taking a moment to step back and think about how their actions affect the world at large. Our world has lost a wonderful creature. Take a moment today and do something worthy in its honor. Remember, humans are mammals too.

Listed below are a couple of links to organizations where you can learn more about conservation efforts and how you can help.

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

 IUCN – Get Involved

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