July 7, 2006: The Western Black Rhinoceros is declared extinct. Rhinos are large odd-toed ungulates or hoofed animals. There are five species with most of them endangered. The Javan, Sumatran and Black Rhinos are all critically endangered. The Indian Rhinoceros is endangered with less than 2,700 left on Earth. The White Rhino is listed as “vulnerable” with about 17,500 left, according to the International Rhino Foundation. The White Rhino is native to parts of Southern Africa. The Western or West Africa Black Rhinoceros was the rarest of the Black Rhinos.
The large herbivores lived on the African savannas. They were about 10 – 12.5 feet long and about 4.5 – 5 feet tall. They weighed in at around 1,800 – 2,900 pounds. They had two horns, the longest measuring between 1.8 and 4.4 feet while the smaller one was 1-22 inches. These horns are the most distinguishing characteristic of rhinos. The horns are made of keratin, the same basic substance that forms hair, nails, claws, and hooves. It is also used to form scales, shells, feathers, and beaks in non-mammals. The horns have been said to have been used by the Chinese as an aphrodisiac, but this is an error. The ground powder was used to treat fevers and convulsions.
The Western Black Rhinoceros was hunted extensively at the beginning of the last century. Preservation efforts began in the 1930s and were fairly successful, at least at first. The population began to rise and effort to preserve the subspecies waned. By the 1980s there were only hundreds of the large beasts left. Poaching, or illegal hunting, continued and by 2000 there were only ten rhinos accounted for. Even with this low number, limited anti-poaching effort was put forth. There was a lack of legal support with the courts failing to hand down adequate punishments for law breaking. In 2006, the last known venue for the rhinos was searched without finding any specimens. They were declared extinct, with a “tentative” modifier added, just in case some are found. None are kept in captivity.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was founded in 1948 and is dedicated to natural resource conservation. It is headquartered in Switzerland and brings together 83 states, 108 government agencies, 766 non-government organizations and 81 international groups with about 10,000 experts and scientist from around the world. They maintain a Red List Index of threatened species. Their goal is to maintain the biodiversity of the planet by keeping ecosystems intact and allowing for the plants and animals therein a place to thrive.
If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rain forest with respect, man will become extinct. – Peter Benchley
Species go extinct because there are historical contraints built into a given body or a given design. – Kevin Kelly
The Dodo never had a chance. He seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of becoming extinct and that was all he was good for. – Will Cuppy
I’d say the chances are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct within 50 years. Weapons of mass destruction, disease, I mean this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me. – Ted Turner
Also on this day:
He Never Said “Elementary” – In 1930, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dies of a heart attack.
Peace Activist – In 1983, Samantha Smith visited Moscow.
Boulder Dam – In 1930, construction began at what is now called Hoover Dam.