Another beautiful species that we won't see again: the Western black rhino, which is a sub-species of black rhinoceros, 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, which maintains the famous Red List of Threatened Species.
Female western rhino skull, from an animal killed in 1911. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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, reports CNN.
"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," said Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission.
"These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction," Stuart added.
But conservation efforts are not futile. The IUCN gives the example of the southern white rhino, which went from fewer 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:
Related stories on MNN:
- Infographic: Understanding the rhino wars
- Celebration of World Rhino Day: Through a photographer's lens
- 12 animals with the longest gestation periods, including rhinos