Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The Black Rhino is actually grey.

The year is 2211.  Our earth is much different than it was two centuries ago.  The good news is that human population has stabilized at 32 billion.  The bad news is the enormous toll it has taken on the environment.  With 95% of the earth paved over in a myriad of highways, skyscrapers and industrial sludge, there is hardly anything natural left.   So...in the future...the to only way to see the "outdoors," is to travel to eight 'biospheres.'  Inside these glass domes are methodically preserved nature reserves.  These 'gardens' are only places left where plants grow and animals live.  History books in the future bemoan the previous generations...people who had the technological wizardry to make ingenious cell phones but lacked the social skills to "get along with each other" which ultimately cost the earth all of her natural splendor.

Sound far fetched?  Well, there was a major hint on Friday last week that humankind is headed in this direction.  On Friday, RED LIST OF ENDANGERED SPECIES was updated by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).  Biologists worldwide cringed when they clicked on their website and read the horrible news:  The WESTERN BLACK RHINO was officially declared extinct.  Although three thousand of the massive creatures still exist in zoos and nature reserves around the world, they are no longer found in the wild.  And only humans can be blamed.  Why?  Because poachers have killed every last one.  See, in parts of Asia, the horn of the black rhino is falsely believed to cure disease.  Although scientific evidence has proved without a doubt that ground-up Rhino horn (keratin) has no medicinal value, people still pay exorbitant prices for the item.

Rhino horns have a higher street value than cocaine.
Why can't the poachers be stopped?  It's simply because the Western Black Rhino habitat happens to fall in nations like Cameroon and Gabon.  These states have very weak central governments and don't control much of the country outside of the capital cities.  In reality, much of the land is under the control of roving militant groups and migrant criminal gangs.  Says SIMON STUART of the IUCN Species Survival Commission: “They (the rhinos) had the misfortune of occurring in places where we simply weren’t able to get the necessary security in place."  This is why future generations will be so angry with the people who lived on earth in the year 2011.  We let a bunch of 'yahoo poachers' control our prized rain forests and did nothing to stop them.

What will further confuse future generations about people in 2011 is our conflicting attitudes towards the cherished creatures we allowed to go extinct.  On one hand, we have an obsession with African animals in our popular culture.  Our children play with teddy bears and have giraffe wallpaper in their rooms. Our movies are full of wild creatures...films like the 'Lion King,' 'Madagascar' and 'The Jungle Book' all have talking animals! We even sing about how "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and the "Eye of the Tiger." And don't forget the 40,000 zoos worldwide, where humans go to see their beloved animal friends locked up in cages.  However...on the other hand...when it comes to saving them in the wild...we throw up our hands and say: "Whatever!"

Go to the WWF website for more information.
It's true: There is no easy solution to 'shore up' corrupt African governments.  There is a complex economic cycle entrenched in the region.  Simply put, it rewards individuals who can produce natural resources for the other continents.  Unfortunately, this is where Africa gets much of its income.  Investment in African infrastructure is almost non-existent.  Let's face it...the only big money coming into Africa is for mining, oil production and rhino horn extraction. It's time for people to start looking at the big picture and realize that 25% of all mammals on earth are currently at risk of extinction.  This will happen in your lifetime unless we take action!  Let's Occupy Africa!

A dozen zoos where the Western Black Rhino can be seen worldwide:

Chester Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo
Guadalajara Zoo
Hong Kong Zoo
Honolulu Zoo
Jardim Zoologico, Rio
Moscow Zoo
Safari World Bangkok
San Diego Zoo
St. Louis Zoo
Sydney Wildlife World
Zoo de Vincennes, Paris

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