The King of the Congo
As I got older, I became an animal rights advocate. My reasoning was a concern that human overpopulation was causing so much loss of natural habitats that many of nature’s wild creatures were being squeezed onto pathways that could only lead to extinction. I also had to make up for all the rotten things I has done as a child. This included shooting birds or mice with a B-B gun, making frogs into race car drivers and setting them on fire, sending Bumble bees on sub-orbital rocket rides, stoning dozens of Blue Claw or Horseshoe crabs to death and in general disrespecting most of nature. I don’t know when my attitude changed, but I eventually came to believe in preservation of the environment, coupled with a feeling that the only way to accomplish this would be to advocate for human zero population growth.
Being one of those people who has even gone overboard the other way, when I find them in my house, I will set spiders, bees and beetles free; much to the chagrin of my wife who prefers to handle issues like this more expediently with a fly swatter. She shows little or no interest at all when I chide her about the teachings of Buddha who said that all life is sacred.
We had this argument.
- There is nothing sacred about a wasp, an ant, or a spider.
- Then what about an Angel fish?
For certain areas of the planet it is already too late, but there is still a chance to save large tracts of nature in both the Amazon as well as in Africa. Two common African practices that are a horrifying waste of animal life are killing elephants or rhinos for the sole purpose of respectively harvesting their ivory tusks and their horns. It is sickening to see photographs of tusk-less or hornless carcasses left behind to rot after these trophies are removed. Ivory has value in the music industry or as jewelry, but even piano keys can now be made from more durable synthetic material. I have also seen women wearing ivory pins who should worry more about their elephantine weights than what they stick on their blouses to offset their dowdy or dumpy appearances. Despite the silk gown and the exotic baubles, they still look like the sow’s ear.
I also knew that rhino horns, like the lore about Grizzly Bear gallbladders, are taken because they are then ground into powder and sold as an aphrodisiac to reverse erectile dysfunction in human males. The primitive two step equation becomes: Horny animal = Horny man; which may sound logical enough; except for the non-sequester that the male rhino uses his horn to root around for food; not for diddling rhino pussy.
When Viagra came on the market, I contacted the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company to suggest that they could do a great deal to save the Rhino. The plan would be to grind their pills into powder with the same color and consistency as powdered horns― then supply it in bulk to African or Chinese apothecaries who could dispense it in naturopathic bags or pouches. In saturating the market, this would not only bring continuity to the culture and preserve whatever rituals might be involved but would also bring an end to the senseless slaughter of this magnificent primitive beast. I did receive a polite response from the company’s Medical Director that he would send my suggestion up the corporate ladder; but that was the last I ever heard from them. Years later, the decimation and near annihilation of the rhinoceros remains unchecked and the White Rhino is now extinct.
At one point I considered stockpiling the drug, going to Africa, and then distributing it as a wandering crusading merchant of human sexual satisfaction and savior of African wildlife. The fantasy went as far as becoming a great white witch doctor or medicine man; then made ruler of the tribe after saving the virility of all men both young and old alike. Placed on a throne, then fanned, fed by Nubians and having all the women I could possibly desire put at my disposal; I would be a veritable third world Hugh Heffner: Priapus 1st, House of Pfizer, his most revered and majestic: King of Eros.
I suppose the CEO of Pfizer did not like the idea because at $18 per erection, Viagra has made an enormous contribution to the corporate financial bottom line. A more likely explanation is that either he never got my letter; or if he did, dismissed it as only one more example of senseless ranting from yet another one of far too many misguided tree-hugging fools.
One day when the drug patent finally expires, the generic version will cost pennies a pill. The Rhinoceros, however, will always be proprietary; and when its patent expires, so does a species that will only then exist in photos or on a taxidermy display.
A Crown of Horns