Three. That is the amount of remaining white northern rhinos left on the face of the earth. Two years ago I posted about Nola and the other six remaining rhinos, two that lived in the Safari Park outside of San Diego, California. Unfortunately all of them were too old to reproduce and these individuals were the last of the last. Over the past two years, four have now left us.
The most recent, Nola. I visited Nola many, many, many times over the years and have dozens of photos as well. What is saddest of all, with her passing, that means when the three remaining die, there goes this unique species from the face of the earth. And, it will most likely occur within the next ten or so years.
Today, all five species of rhinos are perilously close to extinction. The rate of their decline is truly astounding: in the decade of the 1970s alone, half the world’s rhino population disappeared. The black rhino has not fared so well either. As recently as 1970, an estimated 65,000 black rhinos could be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In eastern Africa, 90 percent of them have been killed.
Why is this happening? Because of mankind. Because of superstition. Because of status symbols. Because of greed.
Not until the 1970s did the rhino population declined dramatically. What happened? The soaring price of oil. During the worldwide oil shortage, prices for oil soared, and Yeman and other middle eastern countries, rich in oil, experienced windfalls. A seven-fold increase in the per capita income in Yemen, alone.
Young men in Yemen had long dreamed of owning daggers with elaborately-carved rhino horn handles. These are symbols of wealth and status in that country, yet they could not afford them . . . until the 1970s. The increased wealth made acquiring rhino horn dagger handles within the reach of almost everyone and this small country, with a population of 6 million at the time, suddenly became the world’s largest importer of rhino horn.
The greed of men took over. Many subsistence farmers and herders in Africa turned to poaching as the value of rhino horn made it enormously profitable to kill rhinos for their horns and sell them on the black market. For example, as of December 2014, a single rhino horn sells for $60,000 (USD) on the black market, or $35,000 per pound.
Today, less than 15 per cent of the 1970 population remains, yet the thriving rhino horn black market continues despite the laws enacted in an effort to protect the rhinos.
It’s time to stop extinction! Stop the greed! Mankind must learn to live harmoniously with the animals of the world. Without them, our world will change forever…the food chain will become irrevocably changed and ultimately, it will impact the very survival of mankind.