Mother Nature writes with a pencil and likes to use her eraser without prejudice

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By Bernard Wainaina CEO,Profarms Consultants®

A world without rhinos will do just fine for people who are hungry at converting all our wildlife sanctuaries into big commercial farms, but our East African tourism industry without the Big Five will not. And so too,diversity of our natural heritage of wild animals will gradually tank. Ah well, at least the elephants are still abundant. Ok! I jest. Elephants too are on their way out of this world forever,thanks to relentless poaching for ivory. Book that December family trek to the game parks this year folks. Sooner than is pleasant to contemplate, you'll need your slightly out-of- focus pictures to prove to your sceptical grandkids that elephants aren't one of your practical jokes. And that no, that trunk is not Photoshopped. Mother Nature writes with a pencil and likes to use her eraser without prejudice.

You either thrive or you die, and what other species have to do with that is your own problem. The main reason the world's last white rhino is interesting as a news story is the fact that he reminds us of our own mortality. Like many who go on informal safari(Game drive) during my working tours in East African Game Parks, I nearly missed out on seeing a rhino in a state of nature. Though we have Menengai Crater in Kenya,which is a wonderful sight,but Ngorongoro crater in neighbouring Tanzania is a wonderland, a natural zoo. I guarantee within 15 minutes you will be convinced that if you never see another braying zebra it will be too soon. Lions abound, buffalo, blah blah blah It's gorgeous and gorgeously tedious in its abundance. The last White Rhino in the world — it may or may not be named Sudan, I forget — is being guarded around the clock as the world waits for his death to confirm the utter extinction if his species. I wonder if rhinos answer to their human-assigned names. Anyway, it is a sad story, one to tug at the heartstrings and maybe even dredge up a little guilt for the decimation that human avarice has wrought upon Sudan's compatriots. And this mission to guard the Last White Rhino is, in the nature of all futile things, unbearably poignant. But we're human: This is really all about us. Species extinction isn't particularly interesting from a biological perspective. It has happened before, it is happening now, it will happen in the future. But this time round,it not volcanoes or other natural catastrophes that is leading in this horror game of extinction;it is us,human being who have the extinction blood in our hands And who says animals aren't conscious? This rare creature, probably annoyed after years of being ogled by overjoyed tourists, had planted itself squarely where it was impossible to distinguish its features.

Even the binoculars that the guide handed us were only powerful enough to prove that the distant blob could be a rock-coloured creature, or a creature-coloured rock. It grazed unmovingly at the precise centre of a no-drive zone and was only visible as a disinterested blob, no hope of sighting a head let alone a distinctive horn in profile. We were told that we had just had a rare sighting of a black rhino and expressed appropriate awe at this glimpse of its very broad backside. To this day I suspect our guide gave us "our money's worth" by making us stare at a pregnant something before rushing off to chase down rumours of a sighted leopard by other tour vans.

It matters not. By virtue of luck and excellent timing, I get to believe that I am one of the lucky last group of humans who got to see an endangered species, by which I mean an extinct species that is just taking its time about it. And we've killed them off not because they are good to eat or anything useful like that, but because they are rare and hard to kill and so make excellent trophies for game hunters. And because like all things even vaguely phallic that big, beautiful horn is believed by some cultures to confer male sexual potency. Sigh.

It seems disproportionate to kill a magnificent tank of a beast for such floppy reasons,or to raise a very small flag staff that is only meant for procreation of our own human species-how selfish men really are! Frankly, it casts some doubt on the belief in the superiority of human intellect, perhaps the East African one most of all. Bernard Wainaina is an Independent Agribusiness Advisor and CEO at Profarms Consultants®,Nairobi,Kenya. He mainly works with Agribusiness Youth Groups in Eastern African Region.