Extinction is an ugly word. But the sad fact is that we are seeing extinction of animal species happen every day, across the planet, before our very eyes. Biologists are concerned that the Earth is now on the verge of another mass extinction. The Rhinoceros is an example of a species on the brink.
One of our largest land mammals, these gentle giants have been on the planet for millions of years but are now one of the planets most threatened animals. One species, the Northern White Rhino, may soon be nothing but a distant memory. Joe Hauser is the Buffalo Zoo's Rhino Keeper." They're on the brink of extinction,there's only five Northern White Rhinos left on the planet, and that's it ! They're all under human care, there's none out in the wild anymore , and most likely they'll become extinct during our lifetime. Hopefully not, but most likely it has a good chance to. "
Other species of Rhino are living an equally precarious existence. But what could possibly threaten this massive creature ? They have no natural predators in the wild..save one." There's an average of three Rhinos being poached every day in South Africa." Explains Hauser." It's dramatically increased since 2007, poaching has gone from an average of fifteen Rhinos every year , in 2004, there were 1200 Rhinos poached."
Rhinos are being exterminated for the most superficial of reasons, and Asian countries are by far the worst offenders. Motivated by misguided beliefs and outright greed, these amazing animals are being slaughtered only for their horns." In China and Vietnam, there's traditional beliefs that the horn has medicinal purposes behind it, that it cures cancer, reduces fever, makes you live longer, all scientifically proven false." Says Hauser. " It really does nothing, it's not even a true horn, the Rhino horn is just made of Keratin and Calcium, just like your fingernail, so it's nothing special, but on the Black Market, it is the most illegal substance on the Black Market, being sold for over sixty five thousand dollars per kilogram."
Though the future of Rhinos and other declining wildlife seems bleak, their fate is not written in stone, and although we here in Western New York are a world away, Hauser believes that we can all take simple steps here at home to stop the landslide everywhere." Awareness is the biggest thing. Learning anything you can about an animal and then passing it on to friends and family, because I'm sure a lot of people don't realize that Rhinos are on the brink of extinction, that they might not be here that much longer. So if we can pass that information on to friends and family, that might do something. Because like I said,not one person can save all the Rhinos."
Tanya Lowe is Wildlife Education Director at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center." Everybody working together, suddenly we can solve a lot of these problems, and by again, reduce what you use, reuse what you can, recycle what you can, all of those things will make the planet a better place."
But the time to act is now, and the responsibility is ours to right the injustice our species has begun. Once the juggernaut of extinction starts rolling... it's hard to stop. Lowe tells 2 The Outdoors ." It is a global community. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean you're not affecting it ! "
Hauser agrees." They have every right to be on this planet. There used to be hundreds of thousands of Rhinos roaming across Africa, that's not the case anymore. We have the power to save these animals, and it starts with us."
To learn more about the plight of the Rhino and what you can do to help, you can visit these two important Rhino conservation websites : Save The Rhino Internationalhttps://www.savetherhino.org/ and The International Rhino Foundationhttp://www.rhinos.org/ .