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The sun goes down on northern white rhino

by Nicholas Mazur - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Mar 27th 2018 09:15 pm

Humanity is a tiny thing. When we look up at the stars, we are reminded that we live in a short period of time and the universe quickly forgets us. However, at the same time, when we turn our gaze back down, we are reminded of the relativity of the universe as the sole of our shoe crunches down on an ant or a spider. As humanity progresses, so does our potential to do damage to other life around us. 

We recently received a grim reminder of that fact as, according to Scientific American, Sudan, the last male northern white rhino has died at 45-years-old, middle-aged by our standards, but quite a long age for a rhino to live. The rhino was protected by bodyguards and received love and attention by many. 

Of course, that is what we tend to do when things in the environment are endangered. As is natural with most things, humans are not likely to address a problem until it is too late. No one wants to fix something when there is no tangible threat. Yet, now that the threat of extinction is at the door, people are eager to throw sympathy and love on the issue.

Thankfully for preservations sake, science has a solution. Scientists are trying to artificially fertilize a female southern white rhino with frozen sperm from northern white rhinos to keep this sub species of northern white rhino alive. Lucky for the northern subspecies, the southern white rhino has recovered from serious endangerment, and is able to help this companion subspecies to stay alive. 

As you might have guessed, the reason for this endangerment was the result of poaching the rhinos for their horns, which were used in traditional chinese health practices. I know what you’re thinking: “poaching? I’m so shocked Mr. Beaker Speaker, I thought we had learned that poaching was very bad already, Mr. Speaker.”

Well faithful reader, I wish I could tell you that was the case, but unfortunately, the world rarely wraps up in a 45 minute after-school special.  

I’m pretty much convinced at this point that humanity is destined to ruin just about everything on this planet that it can get its grubby little money-hungry hands on. Is there a solution to this problem of poaching? I don’t think so, so long as people want things they shouldn’t, and as long as those people can pay others to get it for them, poaching and a lot of other things are still going to run rampant. “Money talks and science walks” seems to be the case. People love science when it can give them pills for increased labito, a phone that can order a pizza for them with nothing but an emoji, and every opportunity to avoid other people. Yet, when science cautions us that we need to reign it in a little bit and stop making species go extinct, suddenly we say, “Hmmm, what? What was that?” 

Scientists put their trust in their data, and the people responsible for this most recent engagement of a species most likely puts their trust in their bank account, in what they can get out of something. It’s a very human attitude and it stinks of greed. 

Like I said, I don’t really see a solution to this. It will take much more than one subspecies of rhino before anyone really cares about extinction, about ecology. No one will really care, nothing will get done until it threatens us as a species (and if history teaches us anything, probably not until it affects the white subsection of humanity).

Like I said before as well, it might be a little too late by then, as it often is. These animals do not have the ability to fight back effectively, so there are no immediate consequences for our actions. But, and listen closely, I have no doubt that eventually humanity will get its comuppance, and I hope it is as deliciously ironic as we have collectively earned.

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