Looking back over the blog, I realize that I've probably written more about the Sumatran rhinoceros than any other individual animal. Part of that may have been the impression that my meeting with Harapan, at the time the only member of his species in the US, had on me when I visited the Cincinnati Zoo. A bigger part of it is probably my fascination with the fact that this prehistoric, iconic species is very likely to go extinct... pretty soon.
When I first read this article at a different site, it occurred to me that a fitting subtitle would have been "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't." Lots of commenters (why do I torment myself) denounced WWF and the Indonesian government for moving the animal, claiming that that is what killed it. And that possibly played a role. However, I'd ask them to consider. First, the animal was wounded when found and likely would have succumbed to infection anyway. Secondly, even if this individual rhino survived where it was originally found... would it have made a difference?
A lone rhino, isolated from the rest of the species, might as well be dead. It only matters, so to speak, if it can contribute its genes to the population. The means being with other rhinos and that means being where they are. Situations like this are what got me thinking about the increasing zooification of the wild. For some animals these days, the ones that are now tap-dancing on the brink of extinction, "hands-off" isn't a viable option anymore.
This is a photo of a Sumatran Rhino in the Cincinnatti Zoo. (Photo : Mike Simons/Getty Images)