Northern white rhino on verge of extinction

Only six members left after male’s death on Friday

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Monday 13 July 2015

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Northern white rhinoceros, the extremely rare subspecies of white rhino, moved one step closer to extinction last Friday, when one of the last breeding males died in captivity in a Kenya conservancy, media reports said.

Suni, a 34-year-old male and the first northern white rhino to be born in captivity, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 150 miles (241 km) north of Nairobi, according to the reports.

Suni was born at a Czech zoo in Dvur Kralove in 1980, but was moved to Kenya, along with three other northern white rhinos in December 2009 in an attempt to save the species from extinction.

Three northern white rhinos, Najin, Fatu and Sudan, remain at Ol Pejeta. One northern white rhino remains at the Dvur Králové Zoo and two remain at the San Diego Zoo.

“There are now only six northern white rhinos left in the world. Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world and no northern white rhino is known to have survived in the wild. Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race. We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf,” an Ol Pejeta spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement.

Media reports also quoted the conservancy as saying that Suni was not poached, although his cause of death was unclear.

Northern white rhinos once roamed across the dry savannahs of east and central Africa in large numbers. However, relentless poaching had brought their numbers to the current state.

The other subspecies of white rhino, the southern, was also on the verge of extinction but conservation has brought its numbers up to at least 20,000. The southern subspecies is now found mostly across east and southern Africa.

Africa is also home to another species of rhino, the black rhino, whose numbers are relatively stable.
 

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