Twomba was the name given to the extraordinarily large white rhinoceros by the veterinarians who ministered to the wounded rhinos in the savannas. Although rhinos had been around more than 50 million years, most of them were wounded or killed by poachers who sold their horns to many Asian countries, from Malaysia and South Korea to India and China, as a cure to a variety of ailments. There was never much evidence to support any curative powers .
Rhinos could weigh up to 6,000 pounds . Twomba was at least 12,000 pounds and still growing. He was also unique in his coloring. Instead of the usual coloring which was neither white nor black, Twomba’s skin was like a chameleon; it changed colors depending on his environment. This made it impossible to see him in the bush and dangerous to poachers and any other persons or animals he perceived as a threat. He had mowed down countless poachers. None of them lived. They were gored and then trampled to death.
He had two massive horns that could bring a pretty penny to anyone who could pin him down. That became impossible. Word spread in the villages and the poachers tried to avoid the areas where it was believed Twomba was last seen so they could focus on other, easier pickings. This didn’t work either. Even though Twomba was enormous, he could run up to 55 miles an hour, 15 miles per hour faster than normal sized rhinos. It was almost as if Twomba was hunting the poachers.
Consequently, poaching of rhinos dropped dramatically. In fact, it stopped completely. This left Twomba restless. He ventured out of rhino territory and combated poachers who hunted chimpanzees for their meat. Soon chimp numbers were back to normal.
This was a continuing pattern of Twomba. His murderous streak, albeit at first the killings were mostly of poachers, was becoming legendary and not just in the bush; his name was becoming known throughout Africa and beyond. People claimed sightings of Twomba as far as India and Malaysia but this could not be confirmed. Eventually, he killed any humans who were in his way. The numbers rose to the hundreds of thousands.
Meanwhile, in the United States, mad cow disease was spreading like wildfire. It started with just a few cows but overnight cows were dropping like cow pies. This created a milk shortage and prices of foods that contained milk sharply increased. Powdered milk and evaporated milk flew off the shelves. Parents panicked. Scientists were stymied and the pressure on them to solve this mystery was crushing. They couldn’t determine what was causing this rapid spread of a once semi-contained disease. Eventually products containing milk could not be produced; these included cow’s milk cheeses, yogurt, butter, and all types of creams. That was just the beginning. Goat milk was being sold at a premium. There wasn’t enough goat milk to go around for all the children in the world. People were getting desperate and were demanding answers…..but there were none.
It wasn’t just the lack of milk that was a problem. People stopped eating red meat altogether for fear of being infected with the mad cow disease . This put a strain on the already strained poultry and fish industry when people switched over from red meat. The system was broken. People starved.
How do I know all these things? I lived through this time period. I am Laura, the only woman left on the earth and I am eight months pregnant. Ian is my partner; the only man left on earth. If you are reading this, then you are descended from us. We don’t know how or why we survived. We know it began in Africa with a monster-sized rhinoceros whose size nobody could explain and we know that mad cow disease began in the United States which started a domino effect in the food chain. Ultimately, we know that apathy towards the environment, panic, and the lack of urgent intervention culminated in the deaths of billions of people .
I can’t imagine what the earth must look like at the time you are reading this. I only hope that it is in a much better state than it is as I write this. I hope that you take better care of the planet in your time on earth than our kind did. Otherwise, the next time might be the last time humans walk this planet called earth.