The Northern white rhinoceros is nearing extinction. There are now only five known alive around the world after the death of Angalifu on Sunday, Dec. 14. He was the last living male Northern white rhinoceros in the United States. He was brought from Sudan to the United States in the late 1980s. Several days before Angalifu’s death, he was refusing to eat.
There has been no official cause of death announced as of yet, but his death is believed related to complications of advancing age. Angalifu lived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. He was approximately 44-years old when he died.
Decades ago, herds of Northern white rhinoceroses roved across the Savanna Woodlands and the adjacent grasslands just south of the Sahara Dessert in Central Africa. They could also be found roaming in the Eastern portion of Africa. There were greater than 2,000 northern white rhinos during the early 1960’s. But illegal hunting and murderous poachers have all but annihilated the species in order to steal their horns.
In 2014, an organization called International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), announced that “Northern white rhinos were [bordering] on…extinction.” These large animals have been killed throughout recent years in massive numbers almost primarily for their horns. The horns, which can bring thousands of dollars to poachers are said to be more lucrative and in demand than drugs in certain regions of the world.
The kills are mainly driven by a large demand in Eastern Asia. Some Eastern Asians believe the horns act as a cure for a number of ailments and as an aphrodisiac. Criminal organizations responsible for killing the Northern white rhinoceroses use sophisticated weapons and technology to remain steps ahead of the conservationists struggling to protect the endangered animals.
Reports claim it is not uncommon for such organizations to use military grade night-vision equipment, stealth-type aircraft and specialized fire arms with silencers. Horns are also used to make handles for fancy knives. As a result, extinction is nearly a reality for the Northern white rhinoceros.
The five remaining northern white rhinos are kept world-wide in zoos. Angalifu’s death leaves only one female northern white rhino at the zoo in San Diego. Her name is Nola and she is believed to be infertile due to aging processes. There is another female, Naire living in the Czech Republic. Finally, there is a male and two females in Kenya residing on a wildlife conservancy.
“Angalifu’s death is an [enormous] loss …,” claimed chief safari conservator Randy Rieches , “because he was well [loved]…[and] his [demise] brings this [incredible] species [a] step [nearer] to extinction.”
Ceratotherium Simum Cottoni is the scientific name given to the Northern white rhinoceros. The species also commonly referred to as the Northern square-lipped is one of two subspecies of white rhinoceroses. The other subspecies is the Southern white rhinoceros. Northern white and southern white rhinos differ genetically. Approximately 20,000 southern white rhinos exist around the world.
The Southern white rhinoceroses were almost wiped out entirely by the end of the 19th century. At one time in history there were only 20 of them living around the world. Multiple years of conservation have gradually revived the southern white rhino back to a more secure number.
The Northern white rhinoceros can live 50 years on the average without the threat of extinction. Due to the urgency of the matter and the small number of remaining, able-bodied northern white rhinos alive, rapid-fire efforts are being made to sustain the species through in-vitro fertilization.
By D’wayne Stanelli
Photo by mliu92 – Flickr