One of the world’s last remaining northern white rhinoceroses has died.
Nola, a rhino that had been living in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, was euthanized on Sunday after a battle with a bacterial infection as well as some age-related health conditions.
She was 41.
With Nola’s death, there are now just three northern white rhinos left in the world, bringing the animals even closer to extinction.
“We’re absolutely devastated by this loss, but resolved to fight even harder to #EndExtinction,” the San Diego Zoo Safari Park posted on Facebook. “We ask you to join us in that fight. Please share your memories of Nola and your condolences with the #Nola4Ever hashtag, and let this be a warning of what is happening to wildlife everywhere.”
Like Nola, Nabiré was a female rhino.
The two deaths bring the world’s population of northern white rhinos down to three: a male and two females that live under 24-hour armed guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
They two females are incapable of breeding naturally and the male has a very low sperm count, according to Scientific American.
However, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park hopes it can implant a northern white rhino embryo into a southern white rhino in a last-ditch attempt to save the subspecies, the website reported, noting that the organization still has frozen genetic material it can use for the procedure.
The northern white rhino once lived across a range of land that included parts of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The World Wildlife Fund said there were more than 2,000 remaining as recently as 1960, butthe population rapidly dropped due to poaching and they are now extinct in the wild.
There are now 20,000 southern white rhino left, which have the classification of “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park says three white rhinos are slaughtered by poachers daily, with their horns sold on the black market. The organization is currently building its Rhino Rescue Centerto help with the conservation and reproduction of the species.
Nola came to San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 1989 in hopes that she would mate with the zoo’s male northern white rhino, Angalifu, the San Diego Tribune reported. The two did mate, but Nola never conceived, and neither did Noti, the zoo’s other female.
Noti died in 2007, and Angalifu died last year, leaving Nola as the zoo’s sole surviving northern white rhino until this weekend.
“#RIP sweet girl,” San Diego Zoo Safari Park wrote on Facebook. “You will be deeply, dearly missed.”
source: nationalgeographic.com by Ed Mazza