by The Old Scot
The Black Rhinoceros of Africa not only puts us in mind of an animated army tank, he frequently acts like one. His massive body is covered with a very thick skin, suggestive of armor plate, and he is armed with two great horns-one of which may reach out more than four feet. With this horn, the Black Rhino has been known to attack anything up to and including railroad locomotives.
Though rhinos may look clumsy, don't be deceived! They can charge at speeds up to 30 miles per hour-but if they miss their target, they can wheel quickly for another charge. They can also continue a charge up fairly steep slopes.
Why all this talk about attacking? Because that is the rhino's basic nature. "Hit first and ask questions later" seems to be his guiding instinct. Rhinos which have been peacefully grazing among a herd of antelopes have been known to suddenly lunge at a harmless neighbor, without any apparent reason. They have also been known to abruptly charge bushes and trees which have caught their attention.
One game warden in Kenya rescued a rhino from a mud hole, only to watch the ungrateful beast mangle his truck immediately afterward.
But there is a surprising reason for the rhino's belligerence: if he were human, he would be considered legally blind. If he could see better, he doubtless would not feel so threatened by unknown dangers-for that is really what his instinct tells him: "Go after anything threatening, before it comes after you."
Perhaps this explains why rhinos in captivity frequently become very tame. Once penned up and given time to realize that there are no dangers surrounding him, a rhino will often become gentle enough to eat out of his keeper's hand. Captive rhinos also love to have their ears rubbed, and some have been taught to roll over on their backs to have their tummies scratched.
In the wilds, rhinos have only one natural enemy: man. But that enemy has by now made the rhino an endangered species, and continues to push it toward extinction.
Why is mankind killing off rhinos? They have something a large part of the world wants, and will pay extravagantly to get-enough money to stir poachers to slaughter as many rhinos as they can to supply the demand.
What is this precious commodity? The rhinos' horns. Now, their horns are very unusual structures: unlike the horns of most animals, rhino horns are made of densely-packed hairs. Most species of rhinos have very little body hair-it is all concentrated in their horns-in which thousands of individual hairs are bonded so strongly together that they can challenge the side of a Land Rover, and win!
But how God made rhino horns has nothing to do with why some merchants will pay as much as several hundred dollars per pound for them. The sad truth is that in many parts of Asia, a powder made by grinding the horns is believed to arouse sexual desire after it has been swallowed. In other words, these animals die to satisfy man's lust!
What a horrible perversion of the stewardship God gave to man over the Earth!
"And God blessed them (the man and woman), and God said unto then, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth'" (Gen. 1:28).
We're certainly subduing the Earth, but we're doing a lousy job of replenishing it!. Instead, man is doing something that no animal would dream of doing: we're fouling our own nest! The Earth is the nest which our Maker has given us, and we are so close to utterly ruining it that we are running out of time. We're poisoning our rivers and lakes-and now even the oceans! We're cutting down the world's forests, to the point that we're making deserts out of good land, and changing the climate over vast areas. We're killing off the varieties of animal life, one at a time. It's a very sorry spectacle, when you stop to think about it.
But man is only doing what is his nature to do-that is, his old nature. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the matter of the forbidden fruit, sin came into the world-and sin changed all nature, including human nature. Ever since that time, man's history has been a tragic story of rebellion against God.
The time is coming, the Bible tells us, when man will finally be at peace with God-and that will be a time also of restoration of Nature. But for now, our part is to be good stewards for Christ, taking care of all that God gives us-beginning with ourselves, our bodies and more importantly, our souls.
When we have given ourselves over to God, through His Son Jesus Christ, He will give us a new nature and help us defeat our rebellious old nature. And we will become the good stewards we want to be. And someday, even the rhinos will rejoice!
"Rhino!" by David Reed, in Our Amazing World of Nature, Readers Digest Assoc., NY, 1969, pp. 95-97.
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, Bernhard Grzimek, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., NY, 1975, pp. 34-51.
Larousse Encyclopedia of Animal Life, McGraw-Hill Book Co., NY, 1967, pp. 588-589.