And then there were 4. Even being under 24 hour armed guard may not be enough to save the Northern White Rhinoceros from extinction.
Authorities at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic confirmed that Nabiré, one of five remaining White Rhinoceros on the planet died as a result of a ruptured cyst, which zookeepers say was too large to treat.
In a statement, zoo director Přemysl Rabas said: “It is a terrible loss. Nabiré was the kindest rhino ever bred in our zoo. It is not just that we were very fond of her. Her death is a symbol of the catastrophic decline of rhinos due to a senseless human greed. Her species is on the very brink of extinction.”
Born in the zoo in 1983 as part of a breeding program in an attempt to save the species, Nabire suffered from large cysts in the reproductive organs that prevented her from conceiving naturally. Scientists are not hopeful they can harvest eggs from her seemingly healthy left ovary to create an embryo and extend the species.
“It is our moral obligation to try to save them. We are the only ones, perhaps with San Diego Zoo, who have enough of collected biological material to do so. We are aware that our chances are slim, but the hopes are still alive,” Rabas says.
There were more than 2,000 Norther White Rhinos in 1960, however poaching and habitat loss decimated that population. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) describes their prospects as “bleak”.
Their sister species, the Southern White Rhino almost went extinct in the early 20th century but has been restored to a healthy population thanks in large part to successful conservation efforts.
The remaining northern white rhinos are an elderly female called Nola who lives in a zoo in San Diego, and an elderly male called Sudan and two females – Najin and her daughter Fatu – who currently reside in the Ol Pejeta reserve in Kenya. Despite numerous attempts by conservationists in 2006 and 2007, neither Najin nor Fatu have been able to get pregnant.