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Monday, November 23, 2015

Nola dies at San Diego ~ and with her it is close to extinction !!!

This  4,000-pound (1,800-kg) white rhino was an icon – for it lived alone  in captivity in the Western Hemisphere. As you may know, collective noun for a group of rhinoceroses is crash or herd.Rhinoceros often abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates – of which two  are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia.

Nola is in news because of her death – she was an icon  not only at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but worldwide," the zoo said in a statement.  It was an Northern white rhino.

The northern white rhinoceros  (Ceratotheriumsimumcottoni), is one of the two subspecies of the white rhinoceros. Formerly found in several countries in East and Central Africa south of the Sahara, it is considered critically endangered or Extinct in the Wild. This subspecies is a grazer in grasslands and savanna woodlands.   After 2000, six northern white rhinoceros had lived in the DvůrKrálové Zoo in the Czech Republic but four of them (which were also the only reproductive animals of this subspecies) were transported to OlPejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Africa, in 2009, where scientists hoped they would successfully breed and save this subspecies from extinction. This  is what extinction looks like. No meteor from outer space, no unstoppable pandemic, no heroic, ultimately futile, last stand. Instead, poor sperm, weak knees and ovarian cysts mark the end of a lifeline cut short by human greed, ignorance and indifference. 

The last living male, named Sudan, lives on a reserve of savannah and woodlands in central Kenya, with two of the remaining females. The other two females lived alone in zoos in the Czech Republic and the US. At 43, Sudan is elderly by rhino standards and vets say his sperm is of low quality.  The OlPejeta, Kenya, rhinos were shipped from Dvur Kralove in 2009 in the hope that the natural environment would encourage breeding. That hope has faded.

The  demise of this species, is an indictment of what the human race is doing to planet earth and it’s not just happening to rhinos.  Scientists call the mass wiping out of species by humans the "sixth great extinction" — the fifth being the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65-million years ago.  The world's last surviving male northern white rhino, ‘Sudan’ - stripped of his horn for his own safety - is now under 24-hour armed guard in a desperate final bid to save the species.  Rhinos generally live up to 50 and thus with not many years left, it is closer to extinction.  A couple of months ago, Rohit Sharma joined anti-poaching campaign  along with Hollywood actors Matt Le Blanc and Salma Hayek  in taking care of the last surviving Northern White Rhinoceros [Sudan]  of the rare species. 

In July 29,  Nabiré, a 31-year-old female northern white rhino, died of a ruptured cyst, authorities at the DvůrKrálové Zoo in the Czech Republic announced. With that the count was Sudan, 42, and three females. Najin and Fatu living with Sudan in Kenya but are not capable of carrying babies — Najin because of her age and Fatu because of a uterine condition. The San Diego Zoo housed  Nola,  the only female surviving outside of Africa and she  too, was beyond reproductive age.

Nabiré was born in captivity in Nov. 1983. She was plagued with uterine cysts, making it impossible for her to breed naturally. Conservationists hoped, however, that they could harvest eggs from her healthy left ovary for use in in vitro fertilization (IVF). The goal was to artificially fertilize an egg using sperm from Sudan or frozen white rhino sperm from a long-dead animal. This egg would then be transplanted into a southern white rhinoceros, the closest living relative to the rare northern whites.

Now Nola too is no more. Nola underwent surgery on 13 November but her health deteriorated after surgery and she was put down on Sunday, according to San Diego Zoo authorities.  Reportedly, San Diego zoo  recently brought in six southern white rhinos, hoping to use them as surrogate mothers for northern white rhino embryos.There are about 20,000 southern white rhinos in the world, but studies are still taking place to determine whether the subspecies are genetically similar enough for the surrogacy to work.

Zoo researchers say that, if successful, the programme could see a northern white rhino calf born within 10 to 15 years….. but, sadly that is the only hope.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Nov. 2015.

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