Last Remaining Male Northern White Rhino Surrounded By Armed Guards
There’s only one remaining male northern white rhino left in existence and it’s guarded around the clock by armed rangers. It’s one of five northern white rhinos left in the world, three of which are at the Ol Pejeta Conservatory in Kenya.
In 2009, Ol Pejeta took in seven of the remaining northern white rhinos from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic in the hopes that they would breed, which hasn’t happened yet. But in October of last year, Suni, the other remaining male northern white rhino died at age 34. This leaves Sudan, a 40-year-old male. The sanctuary has 40 armed rangers on staff. According to GrindTV, Sudan has also had his horn removed.
“The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers,” Eldoie Sampere of the conservancy told The Dodo. “If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe.”
The northern white rhinoceros was once found in Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Zaire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda. And as of the late 1960s, 2,000 of the species remained. However, widespread poaching has meant that the population was decimated and as of 1984, only 15 remained in DRC. The population was increased to 30, but then poaching again destroyed the remaining population and today only five remain. The species was largely victim to the strife that was going on in that part of the world at that time.
Rhino poaching is due to the entirely false ancient belief that rhino horns reduce fever and seizures. Although they have no medicinal value, they’re valued at $30,000 per pound. Last year, 54 rhinos were killed by poachers.
“With the rising demand for rhino horn and ivory, we face many poaching attempts and while we manage to counter a large number of these, we often risk our lives in our line of duty,” Simon Irungu, a ranger with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said to GrindTV. “Our conservancy is among the least damaged by poaching now, thanks to a dedicated and united team and the support of our management and beyond.”
Artificial insemination has yet to be effective with the rhinos, according to National Geographic, though it has been attempted. Semen and testicular tissue, from Angalifu, a northern white rhino that died in the San Diego zoo, has been preserved in the hopes that in the future the technology will be there to revive the species. There’s also the idea of interbreeding to save the species, though that wouldn’t preserve a pure species.
“Although these animals will not be 100 [percent] northern white rhinos, they will be conserving the important locally adapted genes for the habitats and environment that the northern white rhino was adapted for and evolved within,” the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said in a statement.
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Image of a northern white rhino from Shutterstock
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