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It’s time for us to wake up and redouble our efforts to save the endangered animals of this world, Green Monsters. It now looks like the Northern White Rhino – a rhinoceros subspecies which has been on the path toward extinction for the last few decades – is experiencing its final days on our planet. On the morning of Nov. 22, Nola, a 41-year-old female who had lived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1989, was euthanized after a long battle with illness. On Nov. 13, she underwent surgery in order to drain an infected abscess in her pelvic region – and although the surgery was successful, her health steadily deteriorated over the following number of days.

Nola’s death means that there are now only THREE Northern White Rhinos left on the entire planet, all of whom live at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

This species of rhino was tragically hunted to extinction in the wild because of their horns, a much-valued ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. The last wild Northern White Rhinos were killed by poachers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006 – marking what is likely to be the senseless, permanent loss of one of Earth’s most majestic species, for the sake of short-lived human profit.

Tragically, they are not the first rhino subspecies to suffer such a fate. The Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2013 while the Javan Rhino was also confirmed as extinct in Vietnam in 2011. Others, such as the Sumatran Rhino and the Black Rhino, are currently classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ol Pejeta’s two remaining female Northern White Rhinos are incapable of natural reproduction, while Sudan, the last surviving male, has a low sperm count. However, staff at the Ol Pejeta conservancy still hope that attempts at in vitro fertilization could be successful while –San Diego Zoo has attempted to stop the species from dying out by implanting Northern White Rhino embryos into the wombs of mothers from the related Southern White Rhino subspecies.

What Next?

The future is now looking extremely bleak for the Northern White Rhino, but they are not, by any means, the only species likely to be faced with extinction as a result of human greed, negligence and apathy. In fact, the planet Earth is currently witnessing the sixth mass extinction event in its history. An “extinction event” is classified as the loss of 75 percent of the planet’s biodiversity within a period of three to twenty-two centuries. The world has lost 52 percent of its wildlife in the past forty years, so we are well on our way to making it official. And while previous extinction events were caused by natural disasters, this one is all on us, folks.

African elephants are also at risk of wipeout within our lifetime. One is killed by poachers every fifteen minutes – adding up to the shocking figure of 100 per day – to feed the illegal ivory trade. The world’s shark population is being decimated for the sake of something as trivial as shark fin soup. Animal agriculture is draining the planet’s biodiversity: livestock takes up an estimated 45 percent of the world’s land, leading to mass deforestation and the loss of native species’ habitats.

And it doesn’t stop there. Orangutans and Sumatran tigers are critically endangered because of our insatiable appetite for palm oil. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that an unbelievable 700 marine species are at risk of extinction because of the ridiculous volumes of plastic trash we throw into the world’s oceans every single day. Even the bees and butterflies who pollinate many of the major food crops we have come to rely on are witnessing a rapid, alarming decline in their numbers – largely because of pesticide poisoning. Need we go on?

What Can You Do About It?

While these facts may be uncomfortable to face, it is important that we acknowledge the reality of what is being done to our planet and all beings who depend upon it. We are potentially the last generation of humans with the power to reverse some of the damage that has been done, and save our planet before it’s too late. We cannot afford to sit back and assume that future generations will solve the problem – the time to act is NOW. Share this post and encourage others to do as well to raise awareness for the imminent extinction of so many animal species!

To learn more about how you can help make a difference, check out the articles below:

Lead image source: Jeffrey Keeton/Flickr