Angalifu, a northern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo died of old age on Sunday. Experts say that Angalifu was one of the six northern white rhino’s left, thus his death brought the species one step closer to becoming extinct.
Randy Rieches, safari park curator, said that the death of this rhino is a loss for everyone, not only for people working at the Zoo. Randy also said that everybody at the safari park loved Angalifu dearly. Apparently, Angalifu died of old age and was about 44 years old. The staff and experts of the safari park made countless efforts to mate Angalifu with Nola, but their efforts were in vain.
With Angalifu gone, only a female from the same species remains at the safari park, a northern white rhino named Nola. One other rhino from this species can be found in a zoo in Czech Republic and three others are in a reservation in Kenya.
Poaching has taken its toll on this species of rhinos, since their horns are valuable and often used as dagger handles or aphrodisiacs.
Last week, officials from the animal sanctuary in Kenya, reported that a male and two females of this species and currently under their supervision will not be able to reproduce naturally. Specialists flew the northern white rhinos from Czech Republic in December 2009 to the Kenyan reservation hoping that they will reproduce easier in their natural environment.
Experts will make efforts now to succeed in vitro fertilization to help them keep this majestic species alive. Vitro fertilization could be achieved with a surrogate mother from the southern white rhino species. This southern white rhino species was on the brink of extinction at the end of the 19th century. Almost 20 rhinos were left at some point. There were countless efforts of conservation made to bring these rhinos back to life.
Poachers kill rhinos especially for their horns that can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars. These horns are mainly bought in East Asia by people who believe that by using them could cure a number of diseases, thus making the rhino horn more demanded in that region than any drug.
There are also reports of syndicates that hunt these creatures by using military-grade helicopters, night vision goggles and guns with silencers. These men are taking their activity to a new level and conservationists are struggling to stop them, but they have a hard time keeping up with them.
Image Source: Scientific American