Northern White Rhino On The Verge Of Extinction: Last Remaining Male Under Armed Guard

Northern White Rhino has been on the verge of extinction for a while, and things are not looking good for this stunningly massive creature.

According to Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times, the Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park has got everyone concerned.

“Veterinarians are unsure why Nola, one of only four northern white rhinos in the world, has a recurring abscess on her hip.”

Nola is 41-years-old and suffers from other geriatric conditions that are fairly normal for a Rhino her age. Angalifu, the other Northern White Rhino in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, died in December of cancer. He was 45-years-old. All other Northern White Rhinos in existence are in Kenya in a preserve. The Northern White Rhino is on the verge of extinction.

The hope of the species rests on one male. At the moment, things are looking dire. Sudan is the last male Northern White Rhino in existence, and he is 42-years-old. Kept in captivity from the age of 1, he has not had the chance to breed. To make matters worse, West Texas News reports that Sudan has weak legs. This makes it harder for him to mount a female for the purpose of breeding. Not only that, Sudan’s age means his sperm count is lowering. Even if he was able to mount a female Northern White Rhino, it would still be a small possibility that he would be able to impregnate her. Sudan is actually old in rhino years, and it is likely he could die soon. Time is running out, and the existence of an entire species is at stake.

Barcroft TV on YouTube explains the reason behind the rhino’s name with the help of Richard Vigne.

“He was originally captured in Sudan which is the reason why he’s called Sudan.”

Initially, Sudan was not the sole survivor of his species. He had been joined by a younger, more virile Northern White Rhino, but that rhino passed away last year. Now it’s all up to Sudan to save his species. As the last male, Sudan is under heavy protection. He is surrounded by guards 24/7 to protect him from poachers.

The Mirror reported that a “Last Chance to Survive” program was launched to allow breeding to take place. The program was launched in December, 2009, when Sudan was moved to the Ol Pejeta along with two female Northern White Rhinos. However, all attempts at breeding so far have proved unsuccessful. As the Daily Mail reported, Richard Vigne, chief executive of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, points the blame squarely on human poachers.

“Humans are 100 per cent to blame for what’s happened to rhino populations across the planet.”

However, Daily Mail reports that there could be a last-shot solution.

“The team are now looking at using Southern White Rhinos as surrogates to carry Northern White Rhino fertilized eggs to create a pure bred Northern White calf.”

If that doesn’t work, Richard Vigne believes they can look to science for a solution.

“In time, when the science allows it — we could create egg and sperm cells to create an embryo for implantation in a southern white. It’s a scientific process referred to as de-extinction.”

Of course, this is dependent on science coming up with this kind of technology in the near future. It is a waiting game, and time is not on their side.

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0]