White Rhinos On Brink Of Extinction: 3 Northern White Rhinos Left On Earth

Nola, one of the last northern white rhinos in the world, has just died. Photo source: Twitter.

Nola, a 41-year-old northern white rhino, died at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday, leaving only 3 white rhinos left in the entire world. The extremely endangered rhino subspecies now consists solely of the three northern white rhinos that are at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

With an average life expectancy of 40 years for her species, Nola had lived a long life by northern white rhino standards, but the decision to euthanize her was still a heartbreaking one that came after she was treated for a bacterial infection and age-related health issues, according to the San Diego Zoo.

The northern white rhino subspecies is believed to be extinct in the wild due to illegal poaching activities wherein hunters kill the rhinos for their horns, so the fate of their kind is now dependent on the last three remaining northern white rhinos in Kenya.

Northern white rhino horns are sought after by poachers because powder made from the horn is used in traditional Asian medicines and believed to be a cure for many different illnesses. Additionally, the rareness of such horns has caused it to become a much desired symbol of wealth, causing the poaching of the northern white rhinos to become a very lucrative trade, even as the numbers of the species dwindle to almost nothing.

The San Diego Zoo is, however, doing their utmost to preserve the species and is working through the collection of genetic material and the development of assisted reproductive technologies in hopes that a surrogate mother could bear a northern white rhino calf within the next 10-15 years.

If the species is to be preserved, the use of a surrogate is it’s only hope as of the three remaining northern white rhinos, only one is male. At 42 years of age Sudan, the last remaining male northern white rhino, is too advanced in age to be able to reproduce naturally.

Sperm samples from Sudan have been collected, however, and it is hoped that they might be used to fertilize the eggs of a female northern white rhino. The embryo would then be placed into a female southern white rhino, a closely related species, and hopefully result in the birth of a new northern white rhino.

Read also: Prince William Pleads China To End Illegal Wildlife Poaching.

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Janessa is a gamer, a bookworm, an animal lover and a self-proclaimed foodie. She is passionate about everything that she does and hopes that it will come across in her writing.