As the sky changes from a pastel pink to blue-grey and then black he walks a familiar path. Pausing every so often he glances around, takes a deep breath, lets his surroundings fill him with joy. This is home. This is peace. This is life. His life!
Of a sudden there is a stillness. The sounds of night all but disappeared. Before he can process the change, a sharp prick penetrates his skin. A cold sensation trickles through his veins. His muscles become weak. He shakes his head, confused. He shakes it again, harder. The motion moves his body, yet the awful feeling of impending doom stays. Unable to control his legs he sags to the ground.
Through eyes inexplicably cloudy and heavy, his sluggish brain recognizes movement not too far away. He opens his mouth to yell for help. There is no sound. Darkness transforms, shifting, changing into two, three, four shapes that move separately. Shapes of two-legged creatures creeping up on him. But something is wrong. Something is different. The arms. On each shape one arm is longer, much longer than the other. They are talking. What are they saying? How come he can’t understand what is going on?
With a big heave he tries to pull himself up. A weird sound drifts to his ears. Then they are on top of him with their strangely long arms raised up in the air. A stray bit of moonlight illuminates their hands. Hands that are now long broad, nasty looking blades. Something is very, very wrong and he tries to move. HELP! PLEASE, PLEASE HELP! The cry is never voiced as they hack, and hack, and hack. Blood runs into his eyes, his mouth. It drips onto the dry ground, the earth he wandered with pride. He tries to get up, to get away. Hack. It hurts. They laugh. Whack! WHY?! Hack! WHY?! Hack! Excited voices trill on the air. Pieces of him fall away, leaving gaping holes. Why does he feel cold. . . and hot? PAIN. Terrible pain as the night air brushes gaping wounds, exposed muscle and nerve.
The night is still again. They are gone. He is alive. Barely. He is tired. The pain is excruciating. Why did they do it? In his short life he could never imagine feeling this much pain. He wasn’t a threat to them. He was living his life in peace. He was planning on having a family, planning on teaching his kids the wonders of this world. As his blood slowly seeps into the earth, he remembers the river from which he drank but a few short hours ago. He remembers the sweet taste of the grass he will never again enjoy. He remembers sharing a happy moment with his future mate only this morning. He remembers the look and smell of his friends as they roamed the land together – only this morning.
He lays down his proud head, now a mutilated and disfigured bloody mess – a pool of blood his pillow. The scent is acrid, the feel of it cold. It is the last thing he’ll remember of his life on earth.
A Rhino’s blood, senselessly spilled by creatures a person feels hard-pressed to call human as they are most definitely not humane in motivation and method.
My thanks to Jackie who keeps on raising awareness on the poaching of Rhino horns in South Africa. Please take the time to read the post “Geza – the final hours” by Dr William Fowlds. Be warned though, it is a heartbreaking story.