With death of rhino, only six northern white rhinos left on the planet

With death of rhino, only six northern white rhinos left on the planet

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conservation suffered another tragic setback this weekend with the sudden death of Suni, a male northern (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Suni’s passing means there are only six northern white rhinos left in the world, and only one breeding male.

“Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,” wrote the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in a statement.

With death of rhino, only six northern white rhinos left on the planet
Suni, seen here at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy in November 2010, died at age 34 – Photograph by Barcroft Media, Getty Images

Suni was not killed by like so many rhinos in Africa today, but was found dead in his enclosure. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Suni was 34-years-old and the first northern to be born in captivity.

Northern white rhinos once roamed portions of Uganda, Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The history of the species has already been one of near-misses. After the devastating rhino crisis of the 1980s, the wild population was reduced to just 15 animals. However, this population eventually doubled, until rhino poaching for horn became rampant again in the mid-2000s. The last known northern white rhinos in the wild disappeared from Garamba National Park in the DRC around 2006. It is believed they were slaughtered by poachers.

Today there are only six left, all in captivity: two at the San Diego Zoo Park, one at Dvůr Králové Zoo—the only zoo to succeed at breeding the animals—and three in semi-captive conditions at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

“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,” said the Conservancy.

Northern white rhinos are generally considered a subspecies of white rhinos, however a 2010 paper argued that the subspecies should be raised to species level due to physical and genetic differences. The study has proven controversial and some conservationists suggest it might be best to breed the northern white rhinos with the southern subspecies in order to preserve at least a portion of their genetics.

White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) remain the most populous on the planet with an estimated 20,000 individuals. However, they have also taken the biggest brunt of the current poaching crisis for rhino horns given their relative abundance.

As to the world’s other rhino species, two are on the brink of extinction. Only 58 Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) survive in a single protected area in Java, while the () may be down to fewer than 100 individuals—and may be the world’s most imperiled rhino species given that its populations are highly-fragmented. The population of black rhinos (), which live alongside white rhinos in Africa, sits at around 5,000 individuals, while Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) are at approximately 2,500.

This article was first published by Mongabay.com on 20 Oct 2014.


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Hanne Glem

Stop the killers before it is to late!!

Patricia Anderson

Not to long ago,, someone killed a rhino and posted it. They where real proud of what they had done. Killing our Wildlife for the hell of it needs to stop!


I bow in shame….

Susan Frudd

The greed of mankind has no boundaries there has to be a severe deterrent to stop poaching. How sad it is to read of the plight of the white rhino, how was it ever allowed to get to the point of being on the brink of extinction. Shame on those who have caused this.

Mark McCandlish

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again- emphatically. A death penalty needs to be instituted world-wide for Rhino poaching- no matter the species. If the consequence of such activity is not the ultimate price one might pay- (with their life) then I see a moment ahead, within our lifetime, where the Rhinoceros will no longer exist, alive- on Earth. Mankind should be ashamed of itself.

Linda French

I agree 100% the only way to stop ALL poaching is regulating stronger laws, and enforcing the rules. Too much turning the other way, too much money being passed to those who are suppose to protect wildlife in Africa. Those who care are being outnumbered by those who line their pockets.

Mark McCandlish

I’ve often heard the lame excuse that these poachers are “only trying to feed their families”. Not true. Notice that, they didn’t carve up the Rhino carcass and haul the meat home to feed their kin. And recent investigations reveal that many poachers operate within or are affiliated with terrorist organizations as yet another funding mechanism. Just like illegal drugs- heroin and so forth. Look at all the funding being thrown at west Africa and the Ebola crisis. yet here, we face the extinction of a unique and magnificent animal. Hello? Bill Gates? Ted Turner? No comment?


Unfortunately, the humans who do the killing place no value on their own lives to begin with…