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black rhino

Black rhino

I’ve just watched the last episode of David Attenborough’s Africa. In it, he was asking what the future might hold for wildlife and biodiversity in the continent.

There was much to be hopeful about: Masai warriors protecting lions rather than hunting them and underpasses for migrating elephants. But there was much to be fearful about, too: one species of gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) where there used to be six; huge tracts of forest earmarked for logging in the Congo Basin. And then there’s the black rhino (Diceros bicornis), which may be extinct 50 years from now due mainly to superstition-fuelled poaching.

men rowing a boat on the Zambezi (1965)

Zambezi (1965)

A lot can happen in 50 years. When David Attenborough was making wildlife films in the 1960s, wildlife experts were invariably European and predominantly male. Africans were limited to carrying equipment and providing local colour. Today’s conservationists are just as likely to be Africans with PhD’s or fishermen who understand that their livelihoods are inextricably linked to the fate of sea turtles.

Two African women conservationists monitoring elephants

Elephant conservation (2013)

What happens to blogs? Will somebody be reading this in 50 years time? If so, and that person is you, do me a favour – check whether there are still black rhinos trundling short-temperedly across African plains or gathering to socialize after dark (one of Africa‘s most astonishing scenes). And tell them “hello” from 2013.

Black rhinos greeting one another at night

Black rhinos socializing

Picture credits:
Black rhino : Africa, Episode 6: The Future (BBC, first broadcast 2nd Jan 2013)
 
Elephant conservation : Africa, Episode 6: The Future (BBC, first broadcast 6th Feb 2013)
 
Black rhinos socializing : Africa, Episode 1:  Kalahari (BBC, first broadcast 6th Feb 2013)
 
Zambezi : Adventure – Zambezi, Episode 1: Lord of the Land (BBC, first broadcast 1965)
 
(All pictures are taken from screenshots and are reproduced on the basis of fair comment)