Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Black extinction

Apparently the West African Black Rhino may now be extinct. The last place they were seen was in Cameroon, and recent extensive surveys show no evidence of their presence there now.

What they did find was evidence of lots of poaching. I guess the rhinoceros horns are (were) worth about $50 000 each, so people were after their horns to sell to foreign markets - even though trade in the horns has been illegal for a while.

This story makes me MAD. And SAD.

I am guessing that the people who poached the rhinos were probably poor and saw the animals as a way to keep them and their families alive... that's my sense of why a lot of poaching in Africa happens although I could be wrong. The problem lies farther afield I think: Asian medicine uses the rhino horn to fight malaria, epilepsy and "other ailments", (whatever that means).

This approach to curing people by killing off an entire species suggests a bit of a crazy ecological imbalance (espeically since there are other approaches to handling these illnesses)... and it does not strike me as being very sustainable, either.

Then again, us humans have always been lousy at the concept of sustainability.

It looks like Cameroon had people guarding the few rhinos that were left.
They had instructions to shoot poachers on sight.

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