Much has been written on Passle and elsewhere on the near-extinction of various species of rhino. The news is, invariably, bleak. But I was particularly struck by this recent photograph of and story about Sudan - the very last male northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum, a.k.a. square-lipped rhinoceros) in existence.
I think it's an incredible image, both photographically, and in terms of what it signifies. It's the very last of something; a beautiful and unique creature that will likely soon vanish forever - and because of human cruelty and stupidity. A majestic beast that has to be protected round-the-clock from murderous poachers by brave, caring guards armed with gigantic rifles. The image is almost apocalyptic.
If you'd like to find out more about (or support) the brave rangers who protect Sudan and other rhinos, see here.
This is a photograph from the front line of a crisis. The vulnerable northern white rhino has been hunted virtually to extinction – in spite of every precaution, in spite of these guards and their guns – and other varieties of African rhino are under a sustained attack from poachers that is totally out of control. The Javan rhinoceros is also on the verge of extinction. India has successfully protected the Indian rhinoceros after it was almost wiped out by British hunters in colonial times, but here too poaching is a menace. What a majestic creature this picture records, and what futile human destructiveness. Have we learned nothing since the ice age? Can the better angels of our nature not defeat the impulse to kill?