|Southern White Rhino in Sabi Sand, South Africa|
The world's rarest animal species is the Northern White Rhino. There are only 4 animals known to exist. One was living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California and the other three are in Kenya, Africa.
This week, there are only three Northern White Rhinos left. Nola, a 41-year-old female, who had been living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1989 was euthanized after a severe bacterial infection and surgery left her in agonizing pain.
Nola was rescued from Southern Sudan in the 1970s when the country was mired in civil war and wildlife was poached indiscriminately. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya cares for the other three remaining Northern White Rhinos. A 42 year old bull, named Sudan and two female companions. When I visited the conservancy a few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing the animals. They are under armed guards 24 hours a day. Sadly, Sudan is too old to be sexually active and Rhinos only live to an average age of about 40 years in the wild.
The reason Rhinos, Elephants and Tigers are facing the danger of extinction is mainly due to relentless poaching in order to satisfy the black market demands in Asia for 'medicine' and ivory cravings. Rhino horns are primarily made of Keratine, the same substance found in our nails and have absolutely no medicinal value or quality.
Scientists have preserved some of Sudan's sperm in liquid nitrogen and is trying to obtain eggs from the two remaining females. The hope is to find a Southern White Rhino female as a surrogate mother and see if they can artificially implant the embryo and hope it may develop into a Northern White Rhino calf. The chances are slim but everything must be done to see if the experiment can work.
I have been a wildlife photographer for 25 years and have visited Sudan in his conservancy when I was in Kenya. You can see my equipment bag and works on MichaelDanielHo.com