FOR several weeks, media organs have been reporting on the fate of ‘Faru John’ (38) who mysteriously vanished from the face of Planet Earth.
‘Faru John’ is/was the name given to one of the ‘black’ rhinos imported from South Africa years ago at considerable cost to the Tanzanian taxpayer.
Tanzania was running short of the beasts – being decimated mostly through poaching – and the country needed replenishment. Reportedly, Faru John was born to Faru Hamisi and Faru Betty in 1978. [TanzaniaDaima: December 21, 2016]. Incidentally, the beasts are called ‘black rhinos’ NOT on account of their skin colour, but because zoologists and ‘tour guides’ needed to distinguish that particular species from the ‘wit rhino.’
Indeed, the so-called ‘white’ and ‘black’ rhinos are virtually of a similar colour – but differ in other features. The Dutch settlers in South Africa long ago called the former ‘weid mond rhino:’ Afrikaans for a widemouthed rhino. The term was either misunderstood or mistranslated by others to mean ‘white’ rhinos!
The most notable difference between ‘white’ and ‘black’ rhinos is the way their mouths are structured, with one being wide-mouthed, while the other’s mouth is ‘streamlined!’ Because ‘black’ rhinos are grazers, they’ve smaller, hook-shaped lips that enable them to grasp prickly shrubs and branches as they feed.
‘Black’ and ‘white’ rhinos also have slightly different body shapes... A rhino is, of course, a rather large, thick-skinned plant-eating ungulate of the ‘Rhinocerotidae of Africa,’ with one or two horns over its snout – and plated or folded skin’ in some parts of the body.
Oh, I’ve digressed rather much here… As I was saying before I virtually ‘interrupted myself,’ our ‘Faru John’ from South Africa – at that time living in his new surroundings, the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania’s Northern Tourism Circuit – seemed to be a fourlegged amorous gadabout!
Ranging far and wide in his new home, the clearly horny Faru gallivanted from female to female fellow rhinos – namely ‘Faru’ Jane, Faru Jean, Faru Joan, Faru June, Faru Jill, Faru Judy, Faru Jackie, and more! Anyway, in due course of time and the processes of procreation, the horny beast helped increase the black rhino population in the area by no less than 26 little ‘Faru Johns’ (and ‘Faru’ Janes, to be politically-correct in terms of gender equality considerations).
That number represents 70.2 percent of all the rhinos in the Crater area! Then, all Hell seemed to break loose after the Prime Minister Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa got wind of the momentous maestro’s disappearance from the scene – reportedly having ‘died’ in mid-August, this year!
Although Faru John’s home address in Tanzania was the Ngorongoro Crater where he initially lived, roamed and ‘loved’ under the care and responsibility of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), the fellow is reported to’ve been shifted willy-nilly, under sedation, in December 2015 to the Singita Grumeti Reserves area at a ‘price’ of Tsh 200m – a half of which was allegedly paid in advance under some table or other… Sheesh! Why the change of ‘address’/ domicile, pray?
The fellow seemed to be doing wonders at Ngorongoro – if only on the lines of the ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ and the Holy Scriptures… [God blessed them (‘Faru’ Adam and ‘Faru’ Eve in our context) and said to them: ‘Be fruitful; multiply and fill the Earth (read ‘Ngorongoro’) and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and...’ .
Whew…What with one thing leading to another, Conservation Officials produced two rhino horns for the Premier as ‘evidence’ that our Faru John had ‘died, was shown his horns (total weight: 5.9kg) – and buried six feet under! Really…?
Where I come from, good meat (and rhino’s is no exception!) is barbecued for a sundowner, tossing the bones to domesticated canines! If humans don’t themselves kill the beast – or get to the meat in the wild first – then scavengers will have a field day, feeding on the carcass and scattering the remains to the Four Winds. So, the issue of DNA tests to link the late Faru John to the horns tendered as evidence is a very Tall Order, indeed! What about the horns, you say?
Weeeeeell… Rhino horn is a US$20bna- year industry. A pound of this mass of keratinized fibres reputed to have medicinal and/or aphrodisiac powers fetches US$60,000- $100,000 – ‘paying’ more than gold, cocaine…!
Oh! I nearly forgot that it was on a date like today’s in the Year-1973 – December 28, to be exact – that US President Richard Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act to provide for ‘the conservation of endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants...’ Then… Sorry, I’ve run out of editorial space here…