The Northern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is arguably the rarest mammal in the world, with only five individuals alive today. Like other rhinos, this subspecies has been poached relentlessly for their horns, which are used in traditional Eastern medicine.
The Dvůr Králové Zoo is the only institution to successfully breed these animals in captivity. In December 2009, the zoo sent four of their Northern White Rhinos to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya hoping that the rhinos’ natural habitat would encourage them to breed. Unfortunately, there have been no calves born since the birth of Fatu in 2000, and one of the four rhinos sent to Ol Pejeta (Suni, a male) has since passed away.
I’ve wanted to make this post for quite some time, as it’s not every day that you get to witness a species (or subspecies) die out right before your eyes.
Here are the five last Northern White Rhinos on Earth:
- Male, born ~1973, wild caught. - Lives at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya under 24 hour armed guard. - Has sired three calves in captivity, two of which are still alive today (Nabire and Najin). - He is the only male Northern White Rhinoceros in the world since the death of Angalifu in December 2014. - Sudan’s horns have been sawed off to make him a less attractive target for poachers.
- Female, born ~1974, wild caught. - Lives at the San Diego Safari Park in California. - Attempts to breed Nola in her younger years were unsuccessful; she has never conceived and is now well past breeding age. - Her companion is a male southern white rhinoceros named Chuck.
- Female, born in 1983 at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, where she still lives today. - Her sire (father) is Sudan. - Nabire is no longer capable of breeding naturally, but has one healthy ovary which scientists hope to utilize.
- Female, born 1989 at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. - Lives at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya under 24 hour armed guard. - Gave birth to her daughter Fatu in 2000. - Najin may still be fertile, but she has weakened hind legs which would make mating and pregnancy difficult.
- Female, born in 2000 at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. - Lives with her mother Najin and her grandfather Sudan at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya under 24 hour armed guard. - Fatu has degenerative uterine lesions which have likely rendered her infertile [x].