Nola, a Northern White Rhino died at the age of 41 Sunday at her home in the San Diego zoo. Her death has brought new attention to a very serious and delicate situation in the world. Only three Northern White Rhinos remain in the entire world. The remaining three live in Africa. They are two females and one male living on the Ol Pejeta reserve in Kenya.
Nola was very old for her age. That combined with arthritis and a bacterial infection finally ended her life. The zoo made the decision to end Nola’s life after complications from medical treatment came about leading to a difficult if not impossible recovery. Nola first arrived at the San Diego zoo in 1989 from the Czech Republic.
While there is a slight chance that this species could repopulate itself, the future looks very dim for the Northern White Rhino. The remaining three rhinos are also old and it is highly likely that the extinction of this species will occur very soon.
The population of the Northern White Rhino has been on the decline since the 1960’s. In 1984, only 15 rhinos remained. Most were killed by hunters for their horns. In 2016, poachers killed the last wild Northern White Rhino in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Despite efforts from those working to preserve the species and stop poachers, too much damage has already been done. However, other subspecies of Rhinos are seeing a population improvement. Thanks to conservation efforts and action taken against poaching, some rhino populations in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe have upwards of 20,000 living rhinos. While it might be too late for the Northern White Rhino, other rhino subspecies are seeing improvement in numbers.
Still, the fate of the Northern White Rhino serves as a serious warning to other rhinos such as the Sumatran Rhino, better known as the Hairy Rhino, of which only around a hundred remain in Indonesia.