Second poem in the ‘Black and White, Wild and Wooly’ series for World Rhino Day - ‘Into the White’, Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).
This was a hard poem to write based on a hard image to see - Ami Vitale’s haunting image of the last goodbye to Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino. The name of the poem came easily, but the rest resisted all attempts for maybe 18 months. A couple of weeks ago I made the upcoming World Rhino Day a deadline to finish and publish it as part of this series.
My commentary is in the poem. Here is Ami’s (from her Instagram account)…
‘Saying goodbye to Sudan was one of the hardest moments of my life. On that day in March, 2018, we were witnessing not just the death of this majestic creature and the functional extinction of a subspecies, but also watching our own demise. We need to start recognising that our fate is linked to the fate of animals. Without Rhinos and all wildlife, we will suffer more than the loss of ecosystem health. We will suffer a loss of our own imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities. I hope that this moment will mark a moment when humanity recognises how interconnected we all really are.’
Efforts are underway to rescue the species through genetic science, and several embryos have been achieved, with a view to one day finding a surrogate Southern White Rhino to re-establish the Northern White subspecies. If it does not succeed, there are only the two ageing daughters of Sudan still alive - Naijin and Fatu, being cared for and guarded by Ol Pejeta - functionally extinct and awaiting the inevitable.
Ami has made a film about Sudan - find details and the story of ‘The Last Goodbye’ on her website