On March 19, 2018, a terrible tragedy occurred in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. This day marked the death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on the planet, and one of the last three northern white rhinos ever. The two remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter, Najin, and granddaughter, Fatu.
In this specific situation, Sudan passed away from problems related to old age, as he was 45 years old, but many rhinos in Asia are killed by poachers for their horns. Their horns are sought out in belief that they will cure various illnesses and ailments.
According to Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta, “researchers were able to save some of Sudan’s genetic material in hopes of artificially inseminating one of the two females left,” in an attempt to salvage what’s left of the northern white rhinoceros subspecies and try to reestablish the species.
Although it may seem shocking that the northern white rhino is almost extinct, the last five remaining rhinoceros species are threatened or critically endangered. Poaching — the illegal hunting of wild animals — has been a common practice among people across the continents, especially in Africa and Asia, for centuries. Poachers specifically hunt for an animal’s meat, various body parts and their hides, and they do so in order to make money and to show off their “prizes” as symbols of wealth and status.
Poaching has many environmental and ecological effects, among which is the emergence of diseases from the consumption of an animal’s meat, the reduction of protected areas for wild animals, and obviously, the endangerment and extinction of the hunted wild animals.
The Center for Biological Diversity says, “Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural ‘background’ rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day.”
Many people don’t realize or aren’t aware of just how serious the problem of extinction is and how detrimental the effects of poaching, deforestation, water acidification, global warming and other environmental issues are. One thing in common with each of these detrimental environmental effects is that humans are creating them.
Each and every human being on this Earth should be conscious of his or her ecological footprint and how that footprint has an effect on this planet. Every person’s actions have an effect on the planet and all of the animals, plants and habitats that exist on it. It’s especially important to remember that problems such as poaching and deforestation are actions that come directly from humans and that directly destroy wild animals’ lives and animals’ habitats.
Because of our actions as humans, we have caused creatures like the majestic giraffes and like Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, to slowly but surely reach levels of endangerment and extinction, from which they may never return.
VALLEY asks you to be conscious and aware of the detrimental effects that our human actions can have on our fellow organisms and animals with which we share this wonderful planet. Without these animals and their habitats, the planet cannot properly function. So together, let’s finally put an end to extinction.