Extinction is a phenomenon we tend to think about as belonging to the past. However, it is a sad reality of modern life. In fact, there is only one male northern white rhinoceros left on the planet, and you are looking at him. Unless he mates with one of the two female rhinos currently living in the OlPejeta conservancy, the species will simply cease to exist in our lifetimes. Aside from these three, there are two other female northern white rhinos in zoos.
The male rhino, named Sudan, is 42 years old, which makes mating very complicated and unlikely. Sudan, despite his tragic and heroic status,lives under constant danger from poachers who kill rhinos and remove their horns to be sold as medicine in Asia. Sudan’s horn has been purposefully removed by conservationists in order to reduce the chances of him being hunted.
The majestic rhino has captivated humans throughout history. Albrecht Dürer painted one in 1515. Dürer was a Renaissance artist picturing an exotic beast from the distant lands that Europe was only beginning to learn about. In 1515 the Maharajah of Gujarat sent an Indian rhinoceros to the king of Portugal, who sent it on to the Pope in Rome. It died in transit.
Today, the rhinos are fiercely protected by some and ruthlessly hunted by others. While northern white rhinos can now be counted on one hand, there are larger numbers of southern white rhinos and black rhinos in existence. However, continuing demand in Asian markets for rhino-derived products continues to sustain the market of illegal poaching. This situation is simply a crisis, like any other kind of environmental disaster. We are witnessing the consequences of human irresponsibility n our planet.