Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct

7 May

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by Blake Deppe / People’s World

western-black-rhino-with-calfAccording to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct. After being a victim of increasingly devastating poaching and seeing little to no conservation efforts, the species is now gone, and others – including the northern white rhino and Asia’s Javan rhino – are expected to swiftly follow unless efforts to stop the senseless killing of them prevail.

The black rhino had not been seen in West Africa since 2006, and had been on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species since then.

“The situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” said Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission. “These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction.”

Jane Smart, director of the IUCN’s global species program, added, “We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner; yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”

In addition to lack of protection, poaching plays a major factor in the dwindling rhinoceros population. The World Wildlife Fund said that what is believed to be the last remaining Javan rhino in Vietnam was killed by poachers in 2010; it had been found dead with a bullet in its leg and its horn removed. Though other Javan rhinos probably live elsewhere, that species is expected to face extinction next, if the situation does not change.

There are only an estimated 29,000 rhinos remaining worldwide. The animals are coveted in certain countries due to the false belief that their horns can cure or fend off cancer. Poachers have capitalized on this superstition and dehorned thousands of the animals in multiple countries – even in national parks.

There are reports, however, of a recent crackdown on poaching in Vietnam, including the sales and trading of the ill-begotten horns, of which both Vietnam and China are large consumers. Two rhino horns were recently seized by customs officials; the substance had most likely come from South Africa, and was worth an estimated $365,000. Vietnam has now announced it will cooperate with South Africa in order to strengthen the crackdown. Initial steps will include setting up a gene bank and DNA analysis training to better track horns that are taken by poachers.

The two governments will also focus on stopping poachers who obtain hunting permits under false pretenses by masquerading as trophy hunters.

South African government spokesperson Peter Mbelengwa remarked, “As part of the cooperation between the two countries, Vietnam is going to provide us with a list of accredited trophy hunters. We will be able to verify their legitimacy.”

But experts say that even the most admirable efforts to combat the problem cannot be perfect, comparing such campaigns to games of “whack-a-mole,” where when one poaching tactic is defeated, another emerges somewhere else, or in another form.

“The issue seems to be that every time there’s a clampdown in one area, another situation emerges,” said Dr. Jo Shaw, a rhino expert for the World Wildlife Fund. And the situation is just as dire for rhinos in South Africa as they are elsewhere: in 2012 alone, 668 rhinos were killed by poachers. 232 have been killed so far this year. Unfortunately, Shaw concluded, “the patterns indicate that, this year, it will be over 800.”

Photo: LaertesCTB/Flickr (CC)

66 Responses to “Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct”

  1. Jasper Wilcox May 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    i do believe this is the first time you’ve ever cross-posted an article from the people’s world weekly – are we becoming communist party friendly? blake deppe is a good writer – i’ve been following him for a long time. good to see friendliness from the EF! to the old-guard cpusa… who do a lot more good work than anybody ever gives them credit for…

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 10, 2013 at 12:51 am #

      funny comment, jasper. fyi, the first talk i ever gave was about bilateral FTAs at the CPUSA headquarters in NYC circa June 2007. I talked about Rosa, Marx’s 2nd volume of Capital, and a new blue-green alliance.

      • Jasper Wilcox May 10, 2013 at 2:08 am #

        you never hear about the old cpusa – i think they’re neat…

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 10, 2013 at 11:22 am #

        you have a point. the old days of Paul Sweezy and Harry Braverman provide a lot of fodder for real economic analysis and shop-floor organizing principles. the CPUSA was at its height when it was providing medical services and food to poor communities while backing up the civil rights movement in its earliest stages. But it also defended Stalin pretty uncritically for a long time, even further than the Communist Party of Great Britain. This gave the corporations a chance to trump the political struggle by co-opting unions and creating an economic collaborator-class. William Z Foster, who kept the party in line even after the invasion of Hungary, came out of the IWW, so it’s quite a strange and specifically US-American beast. But the CPUSA and the anarchists have never gotten along very well since the early 20th Century. Check out Paul Buhle’s great book Marxism in the USA for some great history.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 10, 2013 at 11:35 am #

        what if, for instance, the CPUSA had distanced itself from the USSR and embraced the trajectory of the Johnson-Forest Tendency? By keeping up with the trends that became the New Left, the CPUSA would have been adapting to real changing conditions, and would have been able to navigate the red scare and post-red scare movement towards autonomous struggles far better. In other words, perhaps the unions and CPUSA would have turned into allies with the counter-culture, as happened in Russia btwn 1905-1925. Instead of the conservative bloc structure that idealists in the CPUSA wanted to maintain, they would have been able to grow into a more material circumstances and help push towards a revolution.. the problem is the ossified nonsense about what people think revolution should be, as opposed to following their hearts towards grassroots organizing and stuff. then, i’m an anarchist so i’m thinking this like, “what would make me like the cpusa better?” lol

  2. a l May 9, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    If any aliens are reading this; please beam me! I’m in wisconsin crapids, shouldn’t be to hard to miss…

    • Willie May 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      What’s your beef, Al?

    • Champion Procrastintor of Tomorrow May 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Of all places to encounter another whiskey rapids resident, this is not the place I would have expected. We’ll have to sit in the middle of witter field and flash laser pointers at the sky to signal them.

      • Scott May 10, 2013 at 12:25 am #

        Wha?? I wouldn’t have expected one let alone two of you! I grew up there (well, between Rapids and Vesper) but luckily I escaped the summer I turned 18 without help from the little green men…

      • Willie June 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

        Rapids is my town also; left in 1952

    • bev davis May 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      If what the UFO theorists say is true than space aliens wiped out the cedar forests in the middle east and the indigenious trees on Easter Island. Just saying….

  3. BUCK OFAMA May 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Move Them All To Zoos In America.

    • steven May 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      they tried to do that with the Several hundred sumatrian rhinos were collected to be captive bread but none of them bread and then they all died, rhinos are not social or herd animals and every animal needs a large territory in order to survive.

      • bev davis May 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

        I know its too late for the rhinos, but game ranches in Texas have had so much success with endangered antelope and deer that we have actually returned some to their native lands.

    • Bill Gleed May 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      You’re an idiot

    • Everett Cox May 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      You and those of your ilk who believe as you do should be put in zoos.

    • Mykono May 10, 2013 at 3:23 am #

      They deserve to live free. We need to have people willing to crack down HARD on poachers AND trophy hunters, plus serious education efforts to reduce the number of idiots who think a rhino horn has magical medicinal properties. A rhino’s horn is made out of the same stuff as human hair and fingernails. It isn’t special and people need to learn that so they’ll stop wanting the animals dead.

    • Chris Riggs-Saberton May 10, 2013 at 3:47 am #

      We have some here in San Diego but they are too old to breed.

      • amach99 May 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        How many do you have?

    • The Night Owl May 11, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      And Europe !! Zoos are the only places left where the Rhino has a safe place.

    • SL May 14, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      Because America is better then Africa? you guys would butcher them off the plane UK all the way at least the worst they can expect off us is a daily round of Tea and scones

    • Margret June 29, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      But they are all dead

  4. Mo May 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Dis ‘n poes kak style ek sé.

    • Peggy Bair May 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

      Start spreading the word that, OOPS! The horns CAUSE cancer! And that evil spirits will invade the blood and give them AIDS.

      • chadlupkes (@chadlupkes) May 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

        Agreed

      • bev davis May 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        impotence. that would really cut down the value.

  5. smidoz May 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    “The animals are coveted in certain countries due to the false belief that their horns can cure or fend off cancer. Poachers have capitalized on this superstition[…]”

    I may be equivocating here, but when you say “the poachers” are you talking about the people who commit the deed (generally known as poachers)? Or are you talking about the crime bosses who organise it?

    This is very relevant, since the poachers themselves are also victims of exploitation, they seldom get anything near the percieved value of the horn and generally are unemployed people with families to feed. Many people in this situation don’t feel they have much of a choice, and would never put a rhino’s needs ahead of their children’s. So while an extinction is a terrible thing, we’re not going to solve this problem unless we can start putting food in the tummies of those who starve, while rich tourists pay even richer game ranch owners to ogle over the last few remaining rhinos.

    • Chuck May 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      Does it really matter why they poach? You’re either a legitimate hunter or a poacher.

      • smidoz May 10, 2013 at 3:13 am #

        Who cares if some steals a loaf of bread to feed their starving family?

        Stealing the loaf of bread and poaching are both wrong, but they are also symptoms of something else wrong with human society. In the case of poaching, poachers (the poor African who’s starving because his country is paying of a huge amount of dept to american multinationals who bribed a corrupt leader to build things the country neither need, nor could afford) suffer due to an imbalance of resources, corrupt leaders, and more corrupt businessmen who have way more than they would ever need, but lsut after more and more, greed is a problem. Superstition is also a problem, whether it be that rhino horn cures cancer, or that it will make you better at sex, this is definitely part of the problem. So, while we can have a go at poachers, an easy target but nonetheless a second level evil, we’re not going to solve the problem until we eradicate the superstition and the greed that leads to poverty. So yes, it does matter, unless you’re very narrow minded.

        There are very few things in life that come down to either or arguments, here’s one, either you like killing, or you don’t, legitimate hunters are people who like killing so much they pay enormous amounts of money to do it. I don’t see how these people are any better than a poacher who is starving to death and has children who are starving, and thus is open to exploitation by, you guessed it, wealthy businessmen, the very people who cause the poverty in the first place.

    • Paige May 10, 2013 at 4:35 am #

      Forgive me but I’ll never sympathize with a poacher in any way shape or form. There’s plenty else to do to feed your family including, hey, look at all that meat they just left LYING THERE!

      • cynthia olen May 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

        This is a legitimate point: If these are poor people trying to feed their families, then why do they leave behind thousands of pounds of valuable protein? An elephant can feed an entire small village, a rhino several families—so why aren’t these poachers and their families using the meat? They are in it for the cash, not the groceries. There are many legit reasons for needing the cash—to pay off a debtor, to save their farm, to buy medicine, or sadly to use as a bribe or pay-off to a strong-arm—but they don’t always spend it on needful things like that. Sometimes, they just want shiny Western-style consumer goods or want to buy their way into local prestige. Sad and sick. Like this poster, I don’t waste sympathy on them.

  6. Chuck May 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    They should declare open season for all poachers. I’d be willing to pay for a license to hunt those bastards down.

    • ben May 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      I’m with you Chuck. I’ve never handled a gun, but I would love to leave a hundred of them bleeding to death for the jackals and birds to feed on. Show me how.

      • Penisheadbob June 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

        Since when did a human life become less valuable than an animals? Lmao

  7. JS May 10, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    This is not news – the Western Black Rhino was declared Extinct by IUCN in 2011 (the Red List assessment was carried out in 2010, it was published in 2011). Even your “source” (another news article) is from 2011, as are all of the quotations you have used. You are simply spreading confusion by presenting this as a recent development, when it is nothing of the sort.

    • rabbit May 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      While I definitely found it odd that people didn’t know this already, since as you said it’s old news, the article doesn’t say anywhere that it is a recent development. I think it’s fair to post information that one finds, even if it’s late, and especially if this many people were unaware that it had happened. And as you said, they linked to articles with the date on them…

  8. stephbk123 May 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Reblogged this on CHRONICLES and commented:
    Very sad. I wish poaching laws existed, but I guess those places don’t care….

    • JamesB22 May 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      They do have poaching laws in Camaroon. Enforcement is a bit of an issue though, but the World Wildlife Fund has been working to push for stronger enforcement and in fact, Camaroon has increased it’s penalties and increased arrests. Now they just need to sentence more guilty criminals.

  9. Steve Deutsch May 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Were any of them sampled for cloning purposes? Do they need a surrogate mother of the same exact species to give birth to a clone potentially?

  10. debbie May 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    so sad we need to stop the killing of all our lovely animals in the world need strong penaltiesfor the poachers …it needs to stop makes me angry

  11. Saddened. May 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Human beings are a truly vicious plague.
    We’ve eradicated another species off this planet. Not a predator, not a food source, just superstitious crap for getting your dick hard. It’s heart breaking, and all your political fodder can’t reverse it.

    • HuntAHunter May 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      I don’t understand how “legitimate trophy hunters” are somehow ok? surely they are just as responsible for the dwindling numbers, and those vile photos they take of each other with big smug grins on there faces posing over a corpse turn my stomach.

  12. Jane May 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    If they’d removed the rhinos horns, as they do for cattle – what is there left to kill them for? We might then still have a few around…..and alot of orientals would have to live with erectile disfunction – who cares

  13. JamesB22 May 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    You guys are a little slow on reporting here. The Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in November of 2011. You’ll probably wanna watch the IUCN Red List more closely and inform people about the critically endangered species.

  14. Marykate Clark May 17, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    I’m heartbroken by this.
    I want to express so much frustration, anger, grief, futility, and disgust. But I’m simply heartbroken. And the reasons for this extinction… some absurd medicinal quackery… for that I cannot adequately put this horrid equation into words at the moment. The rhinos are dead and the lie remains. The lie is killing other rhinos even this moment as we read that these are now all gone. Extinction is the only truth in this, and still it has no power.

  15. rachgoesrawr May 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Reblogged this on rachgoesrawr and commented:
    So sad. This is why I work in conservation! Poachers should be extinct, not anything else.

  16. peggy May 22, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    that is so sad i am so unhappy

  17. Evilchina June 27, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    F-u china

    May ur country burn in hell

  18. karen dennis July 3, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Its apalling that the black rhino is now extinct this should never happen to any species of animal,personally think that every poacher caught should be given a death sentence after being treated as horrifically as the animals they hunt torture then a slow death like many of these poor animals have to suffer,it makes me cry to think of all the innocent animals being killed for money when they do nothing to deserve this fate except for live humans are the most blood thirsty killers on this planet we kill for sport,for money & just because we can ,no other animal kills for any of these reasons they only kill for food that in my opinion makes them a million times better than humans

  19. marksolock July 6, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  20. find more July 28, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
    this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll
    try to get the hang of it!

  21. chadwickjames03 July 29, 2013 at 1:45 am #

    The rhinos were killed so rapidly and ruthlessness and finally the black rhinos are declared extinct species. It is also very dangerous that the killing of other rhinos is on increase till now. In the way, we can also lose this species of rhinos.
    latest news south africa , south africa online news

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