Officials at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Northern Africa have confirmed that Suni, a 34-year-old breeding male white rhino, has died of unknown causes. Officials have been able to rule out poaching as the cause of death. Suni was the first ever northern white rhino to be born in captivity and his since been used for breeding. Only six northern white rhinos now exist in the world, which is alarming to conservationists and the scientific community.
“Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,” the Conservancy said in a statement. “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.”
There is now even greater pressure on the conservancy due to lack of room for error. Having less than one-hundred of any species is a crucial warning, but when the number drops below ten any sort of unforeseen circumstance can completely wipe the species from existence.
With the western black rhino going completely extinct last year, the proposition that the northern white rhino could follow suit is a chilling possibility. The immense rarity of the rhino is cause for concern due to increased poaching price, which has been reported as being worth more than $350,000 for the opportunity to kill a black rhino in other parts of Africa.
Poaching in general is done for the market demand with a steady stream of buyers who are willing to pay extremely high prices for different parts of the animal. Some conservatories have begun safely removing portions of the rhino’s horn, which is one of the more common motives for poaching. With no horn the rhino is much less at risk from being targeted by poachers.
Although less than ten northern white rhinos still exist, the southern white rhino, which lives in a different section of Africa, is still labeled as having numbers somewhere in the thousands. Poaching will seemingly continue on until the market place for exotic animal extremities ceases to function. Supply and demand is the key problem, and crack downs must focus on buyers as well as poachers.