Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day at the Park

Two rhinoceros lie nose to nose. “That’s Nola and Angalifu,” says our tour director. “They are the only two Northern White rhinos in the western hemisphere. There are only four others left in the world and they are in Czechoslovakia.”
What? Just a couple of years ago the Northern Whites were rebounding, even some thirty or so in the wild.
“Nola here isn’t fertile and Angalifu is the last known male left. Poaching and war have decimated the wild population in Central African Republic, Congo and Sudan.”
Sudan. More bad news from that country. Some refer to the situation there as a civil war, but for the past 25 years the Sudanese government has been driving the black indigenous population from their resource and oil rich lands. Antenov bombers and helicopter gunships against farmers and cattle-keepers. In the first twenty years they killed over two million people and made another five million homeless. The most recent and well-known extension of this ethnic cleansing has been in the western region of Darfur where at least another 300,000 have died and the killing and suffering continue. Some of the most unspeakable atrocities have been committed by the adjacent tribes hired and armed by the government to finish off the survivors and occupy the villages.
I read a few weeks earlier that the Janjaweed, the militias hired by the Sudanese Government, were poaching exotic animals to get money to buy weapons to further wage genocide upon the Darfurian people. It’s unfathomable what the Sudanese Government is capable of doing in order to avoid sharing oil and other resource revenues. Unspeakable atrocities have been waged upon the black indigenous people. To help fund the slaughter of men, women and children the Janjaweed venture into Garamba National Park in northern Congo where they have killed thousands of elephants, removed their tusks removed and left their carcasses to rot. It’s in this way that the entire population of wild Northern Wild White rhinos has been decimated as well.
Killing an endangered, now soon to be extinct, species to fund the genocide of an endangered group of people. I’ve been told by Southern Sudanese that herds of wild animals would be driven onto the mine fields that pepper Sudan. Their sacrifice was an easy way to clear out the mines.
This isn’t the 1940’s in Eastern Europe or the 1980’s in Southern Sudan, we can’t still say we have no idea what was happening. Technology and globalization have connected us all in complex ways. We must be conscious of and responsible for the consequences of our inter-connectedness, even that with Northern White Rhinos.
Killing endangered animals to fund killing children. Where is the outrage? How evil must it get for us to say “this has to stop.”

Take action: Go to How is your representative voting on Darfur issues? A “C” grade? Write them a note and tell them how important it is to you. An “A+”? Thank them.

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