Will the world see the white rhino extinct soon, and yet do nothing? On March 3, 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message during World Wildlife Day was to proclaim, “It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime.” Unfortunately, this message comes far too late, and although the last male white rhino is guarded 24/7 by armed rangers, there seems to be little hope since he has yet to produce a calf.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, the death of a 34-year-old breeding male named Suni takes the species one more step toward oblivion. Suni’s death brought the total number of white rhinos in the world down to only six, but then a white rhino died at the San Diego Zoo, leaving only five remaining on the entire planet.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), by the end of 1960, more than 2,000 northern white rhinos were remaining. However, only 20 years later, these numbers were reduced to only 15 animals after a massive surge in poaching decimated their population. The year 2015 may mark their pending extinction if Sudan the male white rhino dies, and poachers are very much still active.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a home to three out of the five remaining white rhinos, and so armed Kenyan Rangers must watch the male and two females 24/7 in hopes of saving them from extinction. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says that 54 rhinos in general were killed by poachers in 2014. Even if the poachers do not kill a rhino outright, if they cut off their horns, the poor animals are left vulnerable to infection due to the exposed wound.
The reason that the world can only watch as poachers make the white rhino extinct is due to ancient, deep-rooted beliefs that are nothing more than myth. Some believe that consuming the white rhino’s horn can make you appear younger, or even cure certain diseases. Chinese medicine claims the white rhino horn can reduce fever and febrile convulsions, but with modern medicine, why is this even necessary? In reality, the rhino horn is composed of a tough protective protein called keratin, which means that consuming a white rhino horn is about the same as chewing on your own fingernails.
Regardless, poachers still target the white rhino’s horn because it can sell for $75,000 USD per kilo, or $30,000 USD per pound. If poachers are caught, they may receive a sentence of 25 years in prison, but crime syndicates are expanding their ivory and horn trade because of the high payoff.
[Image via Powerful Primates]