When news broke of Sudan, the last Northern White rhino, passing, animal lovers worldwide went into mourning. After suffering from poor health for months, Sudan’s caretakers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya humanely euthanized him. Now, only two female Northern White rhinos remain, Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter. Both rhinos are under 24-hour surveillance by armed guards so that they are protected against poachers.
Once a vibrant population, rhinos are now facing a poaching crisis thanks to humans. The two subspecies of rhino in Asia, the Javan and the Sumatran, are listed as critically endangered. A third Asian rhino, the Indian rhino, had its status changed from endangered to vulnerable thanks to conservation efforts, but they are still poached for their horns. Rhinos are killed for their horns because it’s believed that they possess medicinal qualities, even though they’re made of keratin, the same protein as our own hair and nails.
Due to humans’ greed, estimates show that there are only about 29,000 rhinos left in the world and each year around 1,000 are killed. And the fate of the Nothern White rhino is even bleaker. In the 1960s, there were still over 2,000 Northern White rhinos … now there are only TWO.
And it’s all our fault.
Where We Go After Sudan
As one quote shared on social media after Sudan’s death perfectly put it, “Today we are witnessing the extinction of a species that survived for millions of years but could not survive mankind.”
Rhino numbers have decreased largely due to the threat of the illegal wildlife trade. Three rhinos are poached per day for their horns. Rhinos are critically endangered and can’t afford any more decline – there are only five subspecies and around 29,000 individuals left in the wild.
The illegal wildlife trade is one of the world’s largest illicit trades, worth around 20 billion dollars. The trade spans hundreds of countries and is a top conservation issue. Some animals are captured alive and sold as pets, as part of the exotic pet trade, while others are killed and turned into consumer products, tourism souvenirs or ingredients in traditional medicine. The illegal wildlife trade not only puts species at risk but ecosystems in danger as well. In fact, it is second only to habitat destruction as a major cause of species extinction.
Despite the worldwide-attention Sudan brought to the plight of the rhino species, the vast knowledge present about the illegal wildlife trade, and the immense work his caretakers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy did to save him, it wasn’t enough.
Sudan’s death marks a devastating truth in conservation: we failed. He should never have been the last male Northern White Rhino. We should have heeded conservationists’ years-long demands that we STOP poaching rhinos.
What You Can Do TODAY
The Northern White Rhino isn’t the only subspecies or species fighting for survival. It is estimated that humans will be responsible for the extinction of 50 percent of the species on the planet by 2100. We have already lost 58 percent of the species of wildlife in the past few decades alone. We MUST change our relationship with animals and stop seeing them merely as profit to be made.
Let’s right for rhinos. Please SHARE this article to help spread awareness about Sudan and the peril of the Northern White Rhino. Petition your lawmakers to enact bans on trophies, speak out against the issue every chance you have, and encourage your friends and family to never buy products made from wild animal parts. You can also directly support Ol Pejeta Conservancy as they fight to protect the last Northern White rhinos by donating to the organization on their website.
Other organizations working for rhinos include:
- Save the Rhino International
- Save the Rhino Trust – Namibia
- The Rhino Orphanage – South Africa
- The International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Image Source: Ol Pejeta Conservancy/Facebook