We've already lost the Western Black Rhino species to the black void that is extinction fairly recently, and it now looks like the Northern White Rhino species is on the edge of the abyss and might keel over if conservationists can't pull off a miracle.
So it's sad news to learn that Angalifu, the 44-year-old male Northern White Rhino at the San Diego Zoo has passed away in the early hours of the morning yesterday. He was under veterinary care for a variety of age related conditions, and with him gone, there are only 5 remaining individuals from his species: 1 elderly female at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 1 at a zoo in Czechoslovakia, and 3 in Africa.
“Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us.” said Randy Rieches , curator of mammals for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Not only because he was well beloved here at the Park but also because his death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction.”
Part of the reason why rhinos are so threatened, and why park rangers and poachers are literally gunning each other down, is that rhino horn goes for as much as $65,000 per kilogram in some parts of the world. That's a lot of money for keratin, basically the same protein as in your fingernails... Educating people so they drop superstition about the supposed 'magical powers' of things like rhino horns is essential if we're to reduce demand for poached wildlife.
In this month-old video, you can see Angalifu, then one of 6 remaining Northern White Rhinos:
“More than two decades ago we started working with the species here at the Safari Park.” Said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive physiology for the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research. “Unfortunately we only had three rhinos here at the Park and they were all of an advanced age. We were not able to get them to breed and we have been sadly watching their species being exterminated in the wild.”
Rest in peace, Angalifu. Let's hope we can save your species...
Via San Diego Zoo