There are only three Northern white rhinos left in the world, and sadly, the one male is gravely ill. He is forty-five years old and is facing death due to natural causes. The hope of a naturally conceived rhino is now slim to none, so scientists are trying to see if in-vitro fertilization is an option or if cross-breeding with another species of rhino is possible. The loss of the northern white rhino will follow the loss of the western black rhino, which became extinct seven years ago.
The three remaining northern white rhinos are under heavy armed protection at all times. While Asia has made strides at reducing the demand for elephant ivory the past few years, rhino horn is still being sold in many open markets in countries like Vietnam. Misinformation that rhino horn treats disease such as cancer has made prices soar.
All rhino species are in danger, and organizations such as Save the Rhino are doing the best they can to educate, inform, and raise awareness. Some fundraising has been creative – for example, last year Tinder named the Northern white rhino male as the most eligible bachelor in the world. But, rhinos do not share the same prestige as elephants (which have been featured in countless fables, children’s stories, art, religious imagery, etc), and it has been more difficult to get the public to rally to save rhinos or to open their wallets for the cause.
(photo taken at my zoo)