In theory, cemeteries should be sited to as to avoid run-off into the water supply. Fail to do this, and your village dies. Succeed, even if you do not know why
, your village succeeds and Darwinism has won out by blind selection.
Humans are resistant to change - change is bad, change is trouble: they don't like to see people die. They feel parted, as if the deceased has left for a far country without actually saying goodbye or explaining why.
If we feel sad about the dead, it helps us to understand that dying is not a particularly good thing and that we should avoid it if possible.
I don't clearly recall my discussion with Plethora but I hope I mentioned the flowers that are left at the scene of fatal accidents as memorials to the dead. I can see that this gives busy-work for the grieving and an opportunity to sympathise but, if extended too long becomes creepy
, rather like Mrs Haversham in "[wiki]Great Expectations[/wiki]" who has worn her wedding dress for 40 years since being stood up at the altar.
This only goes for good things: we don't put up monuments to known arseholes
We like to think that the past is a country populated with good experiences, close to paradise, and thus are comforted by things of the past that take us there in our mind's-eye and agree with our idealised perceptions.
Animals are the same, their numbers and type are significant: they are monuments to a better time, a better life. In his 18th century book "The Natural History of Selborne
", [wiki]Gilbert White[/wiki] evokes an England of rural beauty and mentions "clouds of Goldfinch
" People who have never seen a Goldfinch in real life, yearn for this hint of Paradise to be again.
So when we worry about dead rhinos, we worry that our imagined joy at seeing such a rare and majestic creature will be denied as an imagined joy to our descendants. It is unlikely that we see the rhino in the same way as the African native: a ton of bad-tempered, short-sighted death that will eat or trample all your crops but when dead, or its horn sold to some idiot, will feed a family of 12 for three months. But perhaps the liberal African would feel happy to imagine seeing our Goldfinches and want them kept that way.
It's all imagination, it is teachings from our culture, we like our culture, we don't like change, and it all keeps us happy. As long as they do not become an obsession or creepy, cemeteries and animals are OK.