Jun 18 2013

Say goodbye

Oops, too late. The Western Black Rhino has been officially declared extinct.

In case you were wondering how that happened…


In happier times:



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  1. 1

    Great, now I’m crying. Thanks a fucking bunch, extinction crisis! ARGH

  2. 2


  3. 3
    Chris Clarke

    This news is a couple years old.

  4. 4
    PZ Myers

    It is! Damnit, someone sent me this as if it was something new.

  5. 5

    It still hurts. I’m shocked all over again. I would think zoos would have helped. Is it “in the wild” extinct or “extinct” extinct? Maybe we can get enough DNA from poached specimens to clone later and start fixing what we (humanity) has done?

  6. 6

    Just when I thought I might not drink tonight.

  7. 7

    Most people treat the environment like a spoilt child with an inheritance.

    They act as if it’s infinite and have no concept of reservation or preservation until it’s all gone. It’s only when it’s too late that they’ll ask how to undo the damage. And even then, they’ve been spoilt so long they can’t grasp that nothing can be done, they assume “daddy will fix everything”.

  8. 8
    Glen Davidson

    Apparently, rhinoplasty couldn’t save them…

    Glen Davidson

  9. 9

    I suspect the White Rhinos may have had something to do with this.

  10. 10
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    Magic and greed win again.


  11. 11
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Can we rediscover the ancient secret that eating the liver of a poacher cures aging and erectile dysfunction yet?

  12. 12
    Chris Clarke

    It is! Damnit, someone sent me this as if it was something new.

    It hasn’t stopped sucking in the interim.

  13. 13

    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too:
    Rhino poachers are mostly poor Africans who do what they can to feed themselves and their families. Most of the blame should go to the Chinese witch-doctors, and the rest distributed evenly among the countries and corporations that prolong the poverty in Africa.

  14. 14

    Is it “in the wild” extinct or “extinct” extinct?

    Extinct extinct. AFAIK there aren’t any western black rhinos in captivity, anywhere.
    Not sure if there are DNA samples officially stored anywhere. There are hides and teeth and such around that might be usable, but if samples are to be stored for cloning purposes someone needs to get on that NOW. And of course there’s not much point in recreating extinct species if we don’t make sure we have the correct habitat available for them…
    A few black rhino subspecies are still extant, but critically endangered. Yeah, our track record sucks :/ Summarized from wikipedia:
    Southern black rhinoceros : extinct
    North-eastern black rhinoceros: extinct
    Chobe black rhinoceros: nearly extinct (possibly one surviving specimen in Botswana)
    Uganda black rhinoceros: some surviving in Kenyan reserves
    Western black rhinocero: extinct
    Eastern black rhinoceros: some living in Tanzania
    South-central black rhinoceros: some living in reserves
    South-western black rhinoceros: restricted to wildlife reserves in Namibia

  15. 15

    @Alverant @5:

    Based on the experience with the Pyrenean ibex, cloning-and-dex-extinction will be very difficult if it is possible at all.

  16. 16
    Rob Grigjanis

    Say goodbye soon;

    Critically endangered;

    There are currently 2129 animals and 1821 plants with this assessment, compared with 1998 levels of 854 and 909, respectively.

    As the Red List does not consider a species extinct until extensive, targeted surveys have been conducted, species which are possibly extinct are still listed as ‘Critically Endangered’.

  17. 17

    Fuck superstition! Fuck it in its face! And especially Chinese medicine; it’s an evil force on this planet that needs to be eradicated, a fucking plague. I’ve been following these rhinos for the last 10 years, a slow eradication that “everybody” agreed was unnecessary and avoidable. We humans are a plague on this planet, and unless we smarten up a damn majority of us real quick, I welcome some alien race to swoop in and whoop our stupid asses into the ground.

    Ah, feeling better. But only for a brief moment until I start thinking again. *sigh*

  18. 18
    gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet

    Not just Chinese witch-doctors to blame. Look up the janbiya. The more expensive ones have hilts made from rhino horns.

    My final art-school showing was a series of paintings themed around the coming extinction of the rhino. One of the paintings was a male torso wearing a strap-on made from the severed head of a rhino – a direct reference to the wearing of the janbiya . I contrasted that with Albrecht Durer’s almost mythological rhino print. That was in the eighties. – no one got it.

    So sad that such an amazing animal is being killed off due to pathetic dick-waving.

    Dammit PZ! First Prometheus and now rhinos! Way to get me cranky on a cold winters day.

  19. 19

    @18 : Right, so fuck superstition *and* dick-waving in their respective faces. And cold winters day? Aussie? Kiwi?

  20. 20
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    gobi’s sockpuppet’s meatpuppet
    Re: jambiyas

    Worse still, is that many of those rhino horn jambiyas are so covered up with silver filigree thatyoucant even tell that it is rhino horn! You would actually have to tell whoever you’re trying to impress that it is rhino and they would have to just take you’re word for it.


  21. 21

    I was lucky enough to see a black rhino (or what my guide identified as such) in Kenya in 2001; I don’t know what subspecies it was. It was a beautiful animal. What a tremendous waste in the name of greed, ignorance, and superstition.

  22. 22
    gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet

    …and they are not even horn. Compressed hair – how manly is that?

    And keratin cures fevers? Chew your damn fingernails and leave the rhinos alone!

  23. 23

    But we still have Jesus.

  24. 24
    ugfabian .

    Things like this remind me that death and extinction are a part of life. You can blame humans, but we’re just offspring of nature. Many species died before us, and will die after us.

  25. 25

    Some people came up with an idea a few decades ago to excavate the vast amounts of mammoth tusks and woolly rhino horns in the Siberian steppe and to flood the market and to drain the poachers.

    Maybe they should have tried it.

  26. 26


    That is a bit of a misconception, and tends to play into class based prejudice.

    Quite a lot of rhino poaching in South Africa for example, is done by game farm owners and people rich enough to own helicopters. It is much the same with lion poaching – it tends not to be so much the poor but rather people who are in fact quite rich behind a lot of it.

  27. 27

    I saw a TV discussion recently about Tibet, between a Frenchman, a Tibetan, and a Chinese. The Frenchman and the Tibetan both regarded historic Tibetan buildings as irreplaceable heritage. The Chinese man saw them simply as old buildings, which it would be better to replace with new buildings. He seemed genuinely to have a fundamentally different attitude to history (though of course it could just have been an inscrutable debating position).
    I wonder whether the Chinese feel the same way about a) their own historic buildings b) endangered species.

  28. 28


    a) their own historic buildings
    b) endangered species

    Chinese government is at least… somewhat consistent in regard to historical buildings.
    If it’s not something really popular/visible/touristy, good bye.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    David Marjanović

    On November 10, 2011, the subspecies was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

    Some people came up with an idea a few decades ago to excavate the vast amounts of mammoth tusks and woolly rhino horns in the Siberian steppe and to flood the market and to drain the poachers.

    Maybe they should have tried it.

    Mammoth ivory is, AFAIK, commercially available.

  31. 31

    Things like this remind me that death and extinction are a part of life. You can blame humans, but we’re just offspring of nature. Many species died before us, and will die after us.

    Proof positive that the natural fallacy is not just applicable in matters concerning medical and food woo. I cannot stand this excuse for apathy. Yes of course it is true that extinction is a natural process of the history of life on Earth but this “oh well, species go extinct anyway so let’s just continue what we always do and not even try to preserve what is left” bollocks plays right into the hands of powerful interests who would gladly strip the earth of its wonders if there was profit to be made. Yes extinction happens but the rates of extinction are higher than they would be if these were natural causes. We caused this problem, the very least we should do is fix it. I wonder will we still have this blissful apathy when the species we rely on for our well being are wiped out due to our stupidity, myopia and greed. I have a feeling, we will be cursing ourselves for twiddling our thumbs while biodiversity and ecosystems crashed around us.

  32. 32

    Looks like someone at RDF visits your site:


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