Global adventures of a windblown, thrill-driven aspiring veterinarian

Mercy Kill of a Javan Rhino June 25, 2014

Replica at Zoological Musuem, Bogor, Indonesia. Photo by Gabby Wild

Replica at Zoological Musuem, Bogor, Indonesia. Photo by Gabby Wild

In 1914, the last Javan rhinoceros of Preanger (West Java, Indonesia) roamed his lonely forests peacefully munching on leaves, grass, and branches found almost exclusively in Indonesia. He was the sole surviving rhino in the district of Karang-nuggal Tasikmalaya. The hope of the West Javan population regaining vigor was snuffed out when his mate was killed earlier that year by poachers. Thoughts to transport the rhino from West Java to Ujung Kulon in the far south-west tip of the island where other Javan rhinos remained were not much of an option at that time- veterinary medicine wasn’t quite as up to par as it is today in order to make such a mission like that successful.

So the Dutch government, which ruled Indonesia at the time, made a startling move in order to show defiance against the poachers: they decided that if the poachers would somehow find a way to kill the rhino, they would be certain that they killed the rhino first. Why be so hypocritical? To ensure that the body could be preserved for science, not for someone’s trophy wall. So in 1934 the male weighing in at 2280 kg (5,016 lb- mind your toes) was killed by a single Mauser bullet (cal. 9.3).

His body remains today at the Zoological Museum at Bogor and has been most useful for my own research to preserve his species.

Replica of male Javan rhino Zoological Museum, Bogor, Indonesia. Photo by Gabby Wild

Replica of male Javan rhino Zoological Museum, Bogor, Indonesia. Photo by Gabby Wild

Today this male’s relatives in Ujung Kulon National Park are one of the most protected animals in the world. And that is where you can currently find me, working to ensure that this species does not get added to the IUCN list of “extinct”.

Stay Wild,

Gabby Wild


Challenge to Protect the Last Black Rhinos November 9, 2013

The Western Black Rhino, a subspecies of the black rhino, was declared extinct. Did anyone cry? Did anyone feel a shudder of fear? This wasn’t just the loss of an individual. This was the loss of a beast of perseverance. This was the loss of an evolutionary wonder.

Ah, then some smart aleck will say, “Isn’t it evolution to have us kill and wipe them out from extinction?” And my response would be, “Sure. But I thought we had reason enough not to kill ourselves. Guess we’re just like bacteria.”

But are we, indeed, nothing more than bacteria? Is that reason that the philosophes outcried during the Enlightenment for naught? Are we just beastly bacteria that multiply and multiply and multiply, consuming all in our path in order for us to multiply until we see the brink of death?

So what does this mean? What does this have to do with the Western black rhino? I challenge us to cease our bacterial methods of utmost consumption. We may have been given a cerebrum filled with magic, for it is a magic to convert and visualize and create, but that magic, too, was black. And that black magic gave us the ability to be ruthless.

Who cares about a 5’3″ girl’s words? How will the Western Black Rhino’s death affect you? Well, its death is a harbinger of what is to come. Let’s start first with why it is extinct.

To begin with, it is extinct because people kept in utmost poverty were convinced of the wonders that an animal’s horn could bring their families a little bit of food on the table. They were shown that if they brought down the horned beast, they would be able to survive. Who wouldn’t do anything to help their families? So these people are not at fault, in my opinion. But who is?

The consumer. Who, then, is consuming black rhino? Mostly those who prize their horns. Now why the heck would they like a horn? Well, in Yemen, it is a cultural dagger. In Asia, namely China, it often used as a medicinal remedy- a popular aphrodisiac. My opinion: just eat dark chocolate, people. Why get a horn to be horny? (Also used for fever and other malaise).

So then the big question: does this “horny” thing really work? No! How could it work? Has chewing your fingernails placed you into a particularly promiscuous mood? Has it cured your excruciating migraines? Methinks not. Because like your fingernails, which are made of the protein keratin, so, too, is the rhinoceros horn made of keratin! Yes, rhinos essentially have a big fingernail growing on the top of their nose!

Hope for the black rhino species is not yet lost, though. We still have the Eastern black rhino, the South-western black rhino, and Southern-central black rhino. Although endangered, we can still work fast to protect them. Perhaps you think, “I’m just a simple person living far from any involvement with rhinos. Why must I even be reading this?” Because it is your voice that screams for this to stop that garners the interest of those who have the power to stop it.

What if we forbade to trade with countries that poached and promoted the industry? Yes, out economy would plummet, but theirs would plummet first (because they need the West quite badly). What if we could touch the hearts of the consumers to show them that their purchases are taboo. That their purchases are shaking an ecosystem that they, too, are directly part of.

Humans create boundaries that do not exist according to the satellites of space. Let us understand that these “boundaries” need to be torn down. They need to be torn down so that together we can protect all creatures. So that together we can work together to keep our world alive. How do we stop ourselves from becoming bacteria?

Don’t you want to walk out of the world saying knowing that you made it better than when you had started out on the planet? I don’t know too many generations that can say that. Can it be us? I wildly challenge you to save the last black rhinos from extinction. I wildly challenge you to detoxify our planet.

More on how extinctions directly affect you in future posts…

Stay Wild,

Gabby Wild