Of Fat Unicorns

A Tale of Two rhinos

The two last Nothern White Rhinos on the right, hanging out with a friend.

My Dearest Sara,

I would love to tell a tale of miraculous proportions, a grand epic spanning the breadth of the galaxy; Battles among the stars, madmen leading the sane to their deaths, heroes born in their wake, broken and bent, falling on their swords to save that which they love. I would love to regale you with such a tale. But today, I will not, Today I speak of extinction.

“Mommy, Look! A fat unicorn,” Perhaps that’s what they’ll say as you flip through picture books and talk of the past. And you will smile at their innocent ignorance, maybe chuckle a little before the sad realization strikes: That we wiped them out. They will not understand how such a creature could be. Two to three tons of pure muscle and fat bound by inch-thick skin running around in the wild. Nature’s tank. A true force to be reckoned with.

If you told anyone that had never heard of rhinos this, they’d probably laugh it off. A fantasy. Lump that with your tall tales of animals that have 6 foot long necks. Impossible. Until they saw one. I wouldn’t call a rhino majestic, or grand, I think the word that comes to mind is stoic. Standing still, you might think it a lump of rock when the light strikes it right. They seem immovable these behemoths. Standing next to one, you realize the patience nature has when she carves out her children. They are elegant in their own way. They lumber around slowly as if nothing bothers them. Don’t be fooled by their weight though, that beast can hit 50 kilometers an hour, we do 45, max.

For all their speed and size, we’ve hunted them down. Now, for this subspecies, only two are left. Two of the many thousands who once roamed the wild free. The last pair of the grand beasts that fueled many a tale. The myths that were proved reality now lie at risk of falling back into story. Their very essence robbed from them, reduced to nothing more but a footnote in man’s epic tale of territorial expansion. We have failed this planet. We have failed nature and her children. We have failed ourselves.

That’s why the picture I enclose in this envelope makes me sad. It reminds me of what mankind has done in its selfish pursuits. Here, we have reduced one of our neighbors to nothingness. Walked into their home and shot them dead. Remorseless, we have gone on and on and on. Will there be justice for our horned warriors? I do not know. All I know is this is a sad reminder of the nature of man.

I wanted to close this letter with a call to action. A message of hope to light the fires of your passionate heart. Maybe some deed that can be done to right this wrong. Some saving grace that can make you feel better.

I will not do that.

I want the feeling to sink in. I want it to remain. I want it to haunt our souls and stain our spirits. I want it to never wash off. I want it to fester and rot till it is irritating. For too long do we take small actions and think that we have made the world a better place. For too long do we easily shake off the bad with a nod and a platitude. For too long have we easily removed ourselves from the impact of our action and inaction. We escape from the bitter truth by small acts and feel oh-so-impactful about what we’ve done. I do not deny the power of small acts, but we should not forget the motivation that spurs us to act.

The next generation may never see rhinos outside the digital pages they will scour. And that is a sad thing, Sara, for you never forget the first time you see a fat unicorn.

Yours, Always,