rhino
29 Mar
  • By Lizzie Lynch

We May Have One Last Chance To Save The Northern White Rhino

You may have heard on the news recently that the last northern white rhino has died in Kenya but perhaps you’re wondering, “Why does this mean for this rhino species?”

If you haven’t heard of this yet, then unfortunately, I may have to be the bearer of bad news.

The rhino’s name was Sudan. He was 45 years old and he lived in Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya. He was nicknamed “The Gentle Giant” and last week he had to be put down because an illness that he had contracted became too bad and they had to end his suffering.

His death was very hard for the people of Kenya and they are both saddened and angered by the loss.
Sudan was the only male white northern rhino left on Earth. He has a daughter and a grand daughter that are still alive and also live at the conservancy but without another male, it means that their subspecies is at risk of extinction.

epa06615211 (FILE) - Forty three-year-old Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino on the planet, looks on at Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nanyuki, some 200 kilometers north of Nairobi, Kenya, 03 May 2017 (reissued 20 March 2018). Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where Sudan and the world's last two female northern white rhinos live, announced on 20 March that forty five-year-old Sudan has died at the Conservancy on 19 March. Sudan was suffering from degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with skin wounds so that the veterinary team had to make a decision to euthanize him, Ol Pejeta Conservancy said in a statement. With Sudan's death, the world is left with just two female nortthern whino rhinos. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

Sudan’s death is a very big deal because it draws attention to the massive extinction crisis that we have at the moment. Humans have been the cause of many animals going extinct over time due to hunting and poaching, deforestation, over population etc and the death of Sudan is further evidence of this.

Extinction is a natural process but it has been proven that humans have sped up this process and now experts have estimated that the rate of extinction is between 1000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural rate.

Now, you may be thinking that because Sudan is dead that this unavoidably means this subspecies of rhino is now destined to be condemned to extinction.

However, this may not be the case. Due to today’s advanced technology, scientists were able to extract Sudan’s genetic information and they may be able to reproduce another male northern white rhino using IVF.

This is good news of course, however, IVF is not foolproof and there is a chance that it will fail as this is a very complex and difficult process. This process worked successfully for the first time in 2016 when a buffalo gave birth to a calf that was conceived using IVF and since then it has been commonly used in the cattle industry.

However, the genetic make up of a rhino is very different and much more complicated than that of a buffalo so there is a chance that this IVF may not work at all which will essentially leave us with no further options. Sadly, this will mean that the northern white rhino may fall prey to extinction that could have been prevented.

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Poaching has been the main cause of endangerment amongst rhinos and this is what needs to be highlighted as a result of Sudan’s death. We may have found an alternative conservation solution however this is not guaranteed so we, as the human race, need to take this death seriously and prevent the future extinction of these beautiful, iconic species.

We need to stop destroying their natural habitats, we need to stop hunting them down in packs and killing them for our own selfish reasons. We need to protect these fascinating animals that share this earth with us.

Luckily, there are many conservation groups and programmes that do their best to conserve and protect these creatures to prevent them from going extinct but we need to do more as a global community and ensure that other endangered species, like the northern white rhino, the Asian elephant and the orangutan are saved and will continue to grace this earth for many more years to come.

Further Reading:

https://futurism.com/ivf-northern-white-rhino-extinct/
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/biodiversity/
https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/directory?direction=desc&sort=extinction_status
https://www.wcs.org/
https://www.awf.org/
http://www.enca.com/technology/worlds-first-ivf-cape-buffalo-calf-is-now-three-months-old

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Lizzie Lynch

Lizzie tries to do her best to make a positive change in the community and she regularly volunteers to help the homeless and the elderly living alone. She’s also been part of an organisation called Junior Achievement and has gone to schools to teach children from disadvantaged areas.
She has taken part in numerous fundraising events for many different charities and organisations. She’s done everything from fasting to skydiving from 10,000 feet.

Her hobbies include gaming, reading, playing the ukulele, zumba, cooking and trying to befriend her grumpy pet hedgehog, Peeves.