Suni was one of the four northern white rhinos residing on Ol Pejeta. He was 34 years old. (Courtesy: Ol Pejeta)
Northern white rhinoceros, the extremely rare subspecies of white
rhino, moved one step closer to extinction last Friday, when one of the
last breeding males died in captivity in a Kenya conservancy, media
Suni, a 34-year-old male and the first northern white rhino to be
born in captivity, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 150 miles (241 km)
north of Nairobi, according to the reports.
Suni was born at a Czech zoo in Dvur Kralove in 1980, but was moved
to Kenya, along with three other northern white rhinos in December 2009
in an attempt to save the species from extinction.
Three northern white rhinos, Najin, Fatu and Sudan, remain at Ol
Pejeta. One northern white rhino remains at the Dvur Králové Zoo and two
remain at the San Diego Zoo.
“There are now only six northern white rhinos left in the world. Suni
was one of the last two breeding males in the world and no northern
white rhino is known to have survived in the wild. Consequently the
species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry
testament to the greed of the human race. We will continue to do what we
can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope
that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a
northern white rhino calf,” an Ol Pejeta spokesperson was quoted as
saying in a statement.
Media reports also quoted the conservancy as saying that Suni was not poached, although his cause of death was unclear.
Northern white rhinos once roamed across the dry savannahs of east
and central Africa in large numbers. However, relentless poaching had
brought their numbers to the current state.
The other subspecies of white rhino, the southern, was also on the
verge of extinction but conservation has brought its numbers up to at
least 20,000. The southern subspecies is now found mostly across east
and southern Africa.
Africa is also home to another species of rhino, the black rhino, whose numbers are relatively stable.
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