Last seen in 2006: A moment of silence for the Western Black Rhino

Black Rhino photo

Officially extinct

Another beautiful species that we won't see again. The western black rhino, which is a sub-species of black rhino, was was once widespread in the savanna of sub-Saharan Africa, but no more. The last individual was spotted in 2006, and after years without any new sightings, it was officially declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who maintains the famous Red List of Threatened Species.

Western Black Rhino skull photoWikimedia/Public Domain

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa's northern white rhino is "teetering on the brink of extinction" while Asia's Javan rhino is "making its last stand" due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

"In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented," Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement.

"These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction," Stuart added. (source)

Conservation efforts certainly are not futile! The IUCN gives the example of the southern white rhino, which went from less than 100 individuals at the end of the 1800s to around 20,000 individuals in the wild today.

Here are some black rhinos (though obviously not western black rhinos...) filmed by the BBC:


See also: Aw, cute! The first snow leopard cubs ever born in NYC's Central Park Zoo

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