In the last 50 years, earth has lost 68% of her wildlife and 85% of her wetlands. Average global temperatures continue to rise from anthropogenically induced atmospheric warming.
GMFER welcomes your creativity and support to amplify global voices; voices willing to pressure governments, world leaders and international organizations to act with urgency. An urgency that centers a livable earth for all living beings.
Species in the crosshairs
The rhino once roamed across most of the South East Asia and Africa. The species’ horn, its enormous size and physical characteristics are a distinctive throwback to prehistoric megafauna; tragically, the animal is one of the most endangered on earth and is poached for its horn.
There are five extant species of rhino:
• Black Rhino (Diceros Bicornis)
• White Rhino (Ceratotherium Simum)
– There are two extant subspecies of white rhino: the Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino
– In 2018, the last male Northern White Rhino died; only two Northern White Rhino remain, both are female
• Greater One Horned Rhino (Rhinoceros Unicornis)
• Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros Sondaicus)
– Only 68 individuals remain in the wild, all confined to the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java.
• Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis)
– Fewer than 80 individuals remain alive.
At the turn of the 20th century, ~500,000 rhinos roamed Africa and Asia; by 1970, the population had dropped to 70,000 individuals. Today, those numbers are down to less than ~30,000 in the wild. The most recent statistics from Kruger National Park in South Africa point to a population decline of 67% for white rhinos and 35% for black rhinos, both in less than a decade.
Status via IUCN Red List
• Black Rhino: Critically Endangered (population Increasing)
• White Rhino: Near Threatened and the Northern White Rhino: Critically Endangered
• Javan and Sumatran Rhino: Critically Endangered
• Greater One Horned Rhinos: Vulnerable (population Increasing)
Primary causal factors driving the crisis for rhinos:
• The killing/poaching of rhinos for rhino-horn. The killing is sponsored by the demand for rhino-horn in Asian markets. Legal and illegal markets are functionally indistinguishable. The horn is used in #TCM and as an aphrodisiac; rhino horn consists of keratin, the same substance in human hair and nails. There is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that keratin has medicinal properties, nor is the horn effective as an aphrodisiac
• Habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human encroachment, ill conceived development projects and Climate Change
• The legalizing of rhino-horn trade within South Africa
• Trophy hunting
• Corrupt, inept, and incompetent governments eager to barter nature for short term gain
• Toothless international organizations and agreements, unable and unwilling to enforce transparency and integrity (e.g., CITES)
“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch as a result of human activity.”
Our planet is experiencing a dramatic acceleration of direct threats to its wildlife and wild places. Poaching, habitat loss, human encroachment, Human Wildlife Conflict, fossil fuel extraction, Climate Change and the use of animal body parts in faulty, unscientific medicines (TCM and Muti) are devastating global wildlife populations. In just 50 years, two-thirds of the earth’s wild creatures have disappeared; the causal factors are anthropogenic.
The crisis is markedly discernible throughout the African continent. The most recent statistics from Kruger National Park in South Africa point to a population decline of 67% for white rhinos and 35% for black rhinos, both in less than a decade. Elephant populations in Africa have plummeted from millions of individuals just a few decades ago to less than 450,000 individuals today; the remaining populations occupy fragmented habitat across the continent. The most recent revisions to IUCN’s Red-List cite both African elephant species as endangered and critically endangered.
The overriding causal factor driving the killing of both elephant and rhino in Africa is the demand for ivory and rhino horn in China and Asia; ivory is used to produce ivory trinkets and rhino horn is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Despite a ban on the sale of ivory in China in 2017, a thriving black market continues to supply China’s unabated demand for ivory. A study published in 2020 based on MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants Program) data found no significant changes in the rates of elephant poaching for Southern, Central and Western Africa. The same study found that poaching rates had decreased substantially for Eastern Africa since 2011. The depressing conclusion was that while poaching had declined for Africa as a whole for 2011-2018, the decline was entirely due to Eastern African sites.
The fate of the African and Asian pangolin follows a similar trajectory; at the high end, ~100,000 pangolins are poached and trafficked into China and Vietnam every year. The number represents the killing of 1 pangolin every 5 minutes, an incomprehensible statistic. Like rhino horn, pangolin scales are used in TCM. Bats, bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguar, rare birds, macaques, porcupines are all in the crosshairs of TCM. Even the lowly donkey has not been spared. It is estimated that half the world’s population of donkeys will disappear in the next 5 years to satisfy the demand for donkey hide in TCM. The list of animal body parts used in TCM is long, is repugnant and is vigorously supported by the laws and policies of the Communist Party of China. TCM is a multi-billion-dollar industry, deeply entrenched in the Chinese zeitgeist.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) first comprehensive investigation into the ‘origin story’ of COVID19 concluded that SARS-COV-2, the virus behind COVID19, was passed to a human by an intermediate animal after the intermediary became infected with an antecedent coronavirus found in bats.
“As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics” .
“More than 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans originated in animals, one study says. And more than 70 percent of those animal-originated diseases, known as zoonotic diseases, come from wild animals”.
Animal markets, the bushmeat trade, the wildlife trade, the disruption of intact human-wildlife interfaces, factory farms, wildlife farms and TCM are –all- potential and credible sources for the evolution of pathogens and for spillovers incidents; these practices also sponsor extinction.
Ironically, the WHO, whose recent investigation pointed to an animal source as the origin of SARS-COV-2, glibly endorsed TCM by including “traditional therapies” in its global diagnostic compendium in 2019. It is not unreasonable to hypothesize that the exploitation of animals for TCM led to the evolution of SARS-COV-2.
Ironically, the WHO, whose recent investigation pointed to an animal source as the origin of SARS-COV-2, glibly endorsed TCM by including “traditional therapies” in its global diagnostic compendium in 2019. It is not unreasonable to hypothesize that the exploitation of animals for TCM led to the evolution of SARS-COV-2. Poverty, the absence of agency and chronic disenfranchisement induced by corrupt governments will continue to promote poaching as long as China and Asia continue to demand the body parts of iconic animals for worthless trinkets and fake medicines. The markets that demand the killing of critically endangered species may also bring the world its next COVID.
When will the killing stop?
“When the buying stops, the killing can too.” Peter Knights. WildAid.
What do Western Liberal Democracies intend to do? What do World Governments intend to do? What does the WHO intend to do?
What do you intend to do?
How do we stop the buying?
Rosemary Alles, South Africa and California.
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