This is a very sad story in the making.
His name is Sudan and he is a North African White Rhino, living at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
The sad thing about Sudan is that he is one of only three North African White Rhinos left in the world, due to rampant poaching. He managed to survive the poaching epidemic because he spent most of his life in a Czech zoo until he was returned to Africa in 2009. He is about 45 years old now, old for a rhino, and he is dying of old age. The Conservancy has two other rhinos, both females. They had hoped for mating but apparently the females have infertility problems so when Sudan dies, and the females die, this subspecies of rhino is extinct.
(They have stored sperm from Sudan and hope for artificial insemination, but it's not as simple in rhinos as it is in cows and horses. The process of extracting eggs, for example, is very difficult, since it requires going in through the rectum with a long pole and a small camera ('cause it's dark in there dontcha know and it's too deep reach in and feel where they are going). They are experimenting with other sub species of rhinos, but so far have been able to get a fertilized egg to live past the embryo stage.)
Sudan and the extinction problem was the subject of this week's Nature. There were some half a million of rhinos in Africa and Asia in the 1900s and by 1970 the number had fallen to 70,000, thanks to exporting to zoos around the world, and especially by poaching to use the horns for what people felt was an aphrodisiac.
(There is no scientific proof of the aphrodisiac properties of rhino horn, BTW). Despite armed guards 24/7, poachers managed to kill all but these three animals, who are under guard in an enclosure.
While I am not as big a fan of rhinos as I am of elephants (who have their own problems with population decimation due to poaching), it breaks me heart to think of any species coming to an end, especially when it could so easily have been prevented. And now that #45 wants to lift the ban on ivory brought into this country, the population of elephants will going to decrease much more quickly too.
Another animal that will extinct, if not in my lifetime, at least in the lifetime of Brianna and Lacie is the polar bear. While they are not victims of poaching, they are victims of the rising temperatures of global warming, which our president does not believe exists. With the ice melting it is harder and harder to find food, and the bears themselves are starving to death.
The World Wildlife Fund has the terrible statistics on animals that are facing extinction in the foreseeable future, if not in our life time, then surely before the end of the century. It's quite an eye opener.