In 2011, the West African Black Rhino was officially declared extinct, and now, only four years later, the future of the Northern White Rhino depends on a single elderly bull named Sudan. The rest of his kind have died out in rapidly increasing numbers as demand for black market ivory continues to thrive.
In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa. Last year, it was reported that the number of unlawful rhino deaths had grown to 1,215. Namibia was the first country to attempt dehorning a portion of their rhino population as a means of deterring poachers. By the end of the first year no poaching losses whatsoever were recorded and other countries quickly began to follow suit. Dehorning may help preserve the rhino family as a whole, but the significant damage to the already fragile Northern White Rhino population had pushed the species to the brink of extinction.
While dehorning may be an effective method of preservation, it’s not cheap. Each dehorning costs between $620-$1000, meaning that to dehorn every rhino in South Africa’s Kruger National Park would cost around 5.8 to 8.8 million dollars. Because the horns are made up of keratin, the same material as your hair and fingernails, they grow back to their full size in about 12-24 months and must be dehorned again.
Though Sudan is the only remaining male, he’s not alone. Kenya’s Ol Pejeta conservatory is home to the rest of his kind, four females. Due to his age (44), all attempts to mate Sudan with the females have failed, but preservationists are hopeful and continue to foster a safe, social environment between the last crash of Northern White Rhinos in the world.
Photo Source: Nypost.com