You probably heard that in recent days the last male northern white rhino died on March 19th, 2018. It’s been reported on the news and many famous people or your friends even shared this sad news on their social media pages so let me talk about this very important issue.
Rhino in the photo above was called Sudan and he died of old age at 45 years. An important part of every sentence you read about Sudan is that he was the LAST MALE of his species. There are 2 more female rhinos – Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu. They were all at Ol pejeta conservancy in Kenya where they moved from the Czech republic Dvur Kralove Zoo – region where I currently live, study, and work.
In 1900 there were around 2000-3000 rhinos in the world. Right now we have 2.
How fucked up is that?!
I would hate to talk to you about the birds and the bees here so I’m just gonna assume you know that for reproduction you need both females and males from the species and currently we have only females left. I think you see the problem here.
But – many scientist are working on IVF (in vitro fertilization) research. Meaning they plan to breed new northern white rhino from sperm that have been saved from deceased males and northern white rhino females. Unfortunately, none of our remaining females can carry a calf so they would need to use a surrogate mother of a southern white rhino. (source – this article)
Sounds easy let’s do it and save them from extinction.
Problem is that IVF has never been used successfully in rhino conservation and research has a long way to go until it becomes a proven method. I’m quoting here this great article where you can learn many more about northern white rhinos, their path to extinction, and more about IVF research.
Ol petaja conservancy created project Sudan where you can send donations to support the IVF research and help to ensure that one day in the future, northern white rhinos will once again roam freely in their natural habitat.
The link to their donation page is HERE
Why do I care?
And why don’t you? I’m just 22 years old and in my short life, I don’t remember any species going extinct and being such a mediatized topic. It just hits me hard that the whole species of animals could just disappear one day.
I must admit I never before heard of a Northern White rhino and probably never would want to see them and I never knew about how bad their situation was until it was too late.
I’m just like the child – if you take a toy away from me that I hardly ever play with anymore, I would suddenly want to play with only that toy. Or when you know someone who’s interested in you but you never really liked them, but once someone else shows interest in them they’re suddenly everything you want. Or when you don’t get invited to a party you would never go to anyway.
I would still like to know I have an option. I would like to know there is a chance that I or my potential children and their children could one day see Northern White rhinos too.
Why do I think I would make some impact?
Well, I’d like to think that if you came so far as to this sentence of my article I already took a few minutes of your time to read/think about northern white rhinos. And that’s all I’m asking for. Learn, think, donate to IVF research if your current financial situation allows it. If just one of my around 50 000 followers from all around my social media would donate as well I would be super pleased with myself.
What if it fails?
To quote savetherhino.org “Advanced Reproductive Techniques might not save, or resurrect Northern white rhinos but, that said, there are other rhino species which are in peril, and technological advancements could help these species in the future, for example, the Sumatran or Javan rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis and Rhinoceros sondaicus), both of which number fewer than 100 individuals and the former of which is precipitously declining”
How could we mess up so badly?
You might think it’s way too late to do something about it now and why no one tried to save them from extinction before. Surely someone must have noticed there were only 3 left.
There were 2 attempts to breed the rhinos but both of them failed because zoos that had the white northern rhinos refused to move them to other locations. The last rhino conservation program in Garamba National Park effectively closed in 2006, when fighting flared up again due to safety fears and the fact that the rhino population had declined to four, and was no longer a viable population with enough animals from which to breed. (more in this article)
During mass-hunting in colonial areas northern white rhino population MASSIVELY decreased. In 30 years from 2000 to 30!
It’s a major humanity fail.
I’m very angry and you should be too. Let’s hope we learn from northern white rhinos extinctions and prevent similar extinctions in the future.
Please learn, think, spread information, donate.
Thank you so much for your attention