White rhino population continues to fall with recent death

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya, last hope to many endangered species, suffered a loss this past October with the death of the northern white rhino Suni.

Suni’s death leaves six northern white rhinos in existence. The species is now critically endangered.

“They were killed in the Garamba National Park … for their horns,” said The Henshaw Curator Of Mammals at the San Diego Zoo Randy Rieches in an email interview with The Guilfordian. “We are losing one rhino every eight hours in the wild.”

As a subspecies, they have not been tracked nearly as well as they should have.

“We fall back on this mentality that if we lose a subspecies it’s okay because we’ve got other rhinos,” said Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies Co-Chair Kyle Dell. “Those kinds of comments tell me we have a bigger project to undertake … (The rhino) is a very representative story of a lot of larger forces that aren’t as visible.”

The northern white rhinos would not be the first species lost. In the past 40 years, the Earth has lost more than half of its wildlife, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“If half the animals died in London Zoo next week, it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London, in an interview with The Guardian. “This damage is not inevitable, but a consequence of the way we choose to live.”

Exploitation and habitat degradation account for almost 70 percent of species extinction, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“During the past 50 years, humans have altered ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any other period in human history,” said Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Ahmed Djoghlaf in an interview with the Daily Mail.

However, steps are being taken in the right direction, including the U.N. agreement to end deforestation, an agreement influenced by the People’s Climate March this past September.

At Guilford, new efforts are making our campus more aware of environmental issues.

“We’re going to try to get a sustainability coalition on campus, maybe as a club, but also connect with the People’s Climate March group and the sustainability office,” said environmental studies major and sophomore Eva Cosgrove. “We could have a few people who are eco-reps — representatives of Guilford fighting for sustainability and working with the sustainability office.”

In November, the Greenleaf showed “Bringing it Home,” a film about hemp and sustainable housing.

“(There) are award-winning documentary filmmakers from North Carolina who (were) there,” said sustainability coordinator Bronwyn Corry.

Recently, the Quake Talk series featured Sol Weiner and his documentary about pig farming and environmental racism in North Carolina, as well.

Unfortunately, it may be too late to save the northern white rhinos.

“It’s all kind of a balancing act between how much money we have for conservation and how much of that we are willing to give to one species,” said Macklin.

Still, there is work that needs be done for other species.

“To preserve the health and safety of our planet and the human race, we must meet targets dictated by science,” said Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo in an interview on the organization’s website. “We need strong laws to protect forests and people as well as better enforcement of existing laws.”