Northern white rhino death pushing subspecies closer to extinction
East Africa's largest black rhino sanctuary, Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy announced that northern white rhino Suni was found dead on Friday.
Suni was one of the four northern whites residing on Ol Pejeta Conservancy. He was born 34 years ago at the Dvůr Králové Zoo as the first-ever northern white rhino to be born in captivity. Together with one other male and two females, he was translocated from the zoo to Ol Pejeta in 2009.
Ol Pejeta’s rangers found him on the morning of October 17th, 2014, dead in his boma. “Suni was not a victim of poaching and we have yet to establish the cause of his sudden death”, said Ol Pejeta CEO Richard Vigne. “The Kenya Wildlife Service vets will conduct a post mortem as soon as possible”.
In 2006, his father Saút died in the Dvur Kralove Zoo by natural causes at the same age as Suni.
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 rhinos are known to have survived in the wild.
"Suni was probably the last male capable of breeding", according to Dvur Kralove zoo in the Czech Republic, where the rhino was born in 1980.
Wildlife experts had hoped the 90,000-acre private wildlife conservancy, between the snow capped Mount Kenya and the Aberdare mountain range, would offer a more favourable climate for breeding.
The conservancy said in a statement: “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” said Richard Vigne.
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