The western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes), formerly classified as critically endangered, is now extinct in Africa, according to officials. A leading conservation group confirmed the extinction of the Black Rhino after a recent assessment of several rhinoceros species. The survey also revealed that two more subspecies, including the northern white rhino and the Javan rhino are nearing the same end or are already possibly extinct.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) blamed the extinction on slack anti-poaching laws meant to protect the western black rhino, which was genetically different from other rhino subspecies.
There were very limited anti-poaching efforts in place to save the animals, and anyone caught poaching was not sentenced, hence no deterrents were in place, Craig Hilton-Taylor, who manages the IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species, said.
The survey revealed that no rhino or no sign of rhino (dung, spoor or signs of feeding) were found even after an extensive search in Cameroon. There have not been any reports of any sightings or signs.
Activists the world over are outraged that authorities failed to conserve the species from poachers, even after being made aware of the increasing and illegal demand for rhino horns. The IUCN also blamed the lack of political support for not being able to save the animal.
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A lack of political support and willpower for conservation efforts in many rhino habitats, international organized crime groups targeting rhinos and increasing illegal demand for rhino horns and commercial poaching are the main threats faced by rhinos, IUCN officials said in a statement.
According to IUCN data, more than a quarter of the world's mammals are at risk of extinction; specifically, its endangered species list contains approximately 62,000 entries.
Emphasizing that extinctions were preventable, Simon Stuart, the chairman of the UCN Species Survival Commission added that in the case of both 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.
The western black rhino had the misfortune of occurring in places where we simply weren't able to get the necessary security in place, Stuart said, We are responsible for protecting the species that share our environment.