Approximately half a million northern white rhinoceroses roamed Africa and Asian in 1900. 70 years later the population fell to 70,000 due to ivory poaching and habitat loss. In 2018, one of the three remaining rhinos has died.
On Monday, Sudan, the last male rhinoceros was humanely put down due to increased and irreversible pain from a degenerative illness. Sudan leaves behind his daughter and granddaughter who are currently living in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
What does this mean?
It means that white rhinos now join the nearly 10,000 species to inch towards extinction (or become completely extinct) each year. Although, conservationists hope to save the species from dying out all together via IVF (In vitro fertilization), Sudan’s death should serve as a wake up call to us all that we are literally killing not only our earth’s physical geography, but the animals and humans which occupy it as well.
Subsequently, I ask myself, why don’t people care? Upon reflection I reconsider my question and wonder if we even have the capacity to?
We are living in a time of information overload. From our smart phones to televisions to conversations at work and over drinks with friends, we are constantly receiving and processing new information; whether social/pop culture, political, environmental, personal or otherwise. From the time we rise in the morning until we drift into sleep at night, we are force fed new information, that I would argue we simply do not have the bandwidth to process.
I often see my peers sharing on social media sites:
“Ya’ll won’t care about *insert topic* in a week!!!”
While these sort of statements are more than valid, have we considered that people can’t keep up with all the information they are receiving? How can we focus on a singular issue when 20 more have been presented in the last news cycle?
I’ll be the first to say that it is exhausting, overwhelming and sometimes downright annoying. There are plenty of days where I dream of a disconnected life in the “bush”; living isolated and unaware of all that is occurring. Also, as the old saying goes.. ignorance is bliss.
I’m not into making excuses for accountability nor do I think that not caring is the solution. As we have to care or feel relatively impacted about things in order to create change. However, I am too guilty of this forget-after-a-week-syndrome. Will I be as passionate and disgruntled about white rhinos in a week? Hell, even sooner than that?
I predict not.
This is not because I don’t care about wildlife or don’t want to ensure the future of these magnificent creatures, but because I will likely have to intake and process another national tragedy, another racially motivated attack, another political occurrence (aka something dumb that Trump said), another discussion about gun control and violence, another debate about birth control and women’s access and so on and so on.
Subsequently, I’ve found that it’s not a matter of not caring, but rather not having the capacity to care. If we took on all the burdens and griefs of all that is happening around us, there’d be no room left for happiness. We have to filter what we can give time, effort and mental space to.
It’s okay to check out, I promise.
Social media, CNN and your Facebook friend who is always trying to prove to you why guns are necessary will be there. Your urgency is needed, but a healthy mental state is too. You can not be effective if you aren’t at your best.
P.S. to learn more about the state of white rhinos click here.