As vets put down one of the last remaining white rhinoceroses left on the planet, zoologists took a moment to reflect that at least 14 other species have turned extinct this century.
In a time of unprecedented conservation and protection of the wild, not only have we lost some animals, plants and insects forever, but plenty more are on the ‘at risk’ and ‘endangered’ lists.
That makes the sad demise of Nola, the only white rhino outside of Africa, more poignant.
Nola died at the ripe old age of 41 years old after vets at her home in San Diego Zoo, California, decided she was in pain nearing the end of her life and should be put to rest.
She was a Northern White Rhino, a species from the Sudan, Africa that has been poached to the point of extinction. Nola was rescued at two years old and made her way to San Diego via a zoo in the Czech Republic.
The other three live on a reserve in Kenya.
Fight against poaching
Although Nola was among the last of the Northern White Rhinos, other sub-species are in a much better state.
About 25,000 other rhinos live in Africa and around 50 are roaming south-east Asia.
The fight against poaching is stepping up to provide better protection for animals in the wild.
Scientists at London University and forensic officers from London’s Metropolitan Police are working on a technique to lift poacher’s fingerprints from elephant tusks, rhino horns and teeth from hippopotamus and blue whales, the Christian Science Monitor has reported.
Game authorities reckon a shocking 35,000 to 40,000 elephants are gunned down every year so poachers can steal their tusks, despite laws around the world forbidding the import and sale of ivory.
Economics of poaching
The economics of poaching is simple – if you are poor and live in the bush during time of drought and famine, you can ease your problems by killing an animal and selling some of the body parts.
“The animal has no value as a living creature, just a monetary value as something to trade in time of need,” said a government spokesman in Tanzania, which is running an anti-poaching exercise at the moment.
Find out more about the 14 species declared extinct this century.