The White Rhino: A History on Their Inconvenient Demise

Sierra Meissner, Reporter

     For years white rhinos have been in danger of becoming extinct. In 1960 there were only around 2,000 remaining. Poaching is the main reason why white rhinos are almost extinct. On March 19, 2018, the last male white rhino in the world, Sudan, passed away at age 45. He was put to sleep after age-related complications worsened.  Now there are only two northern white rhinoceros remaining, Najin and Fatu. These two females live under constant protection from poachers in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Scientists have harvested 10 eggs from Najin and Fatu to keep the species from total extinction.

     Poaching and illegal trade of rhino horns are two of the biggest reasons why all species of rhinos are in danger. White rhino horn is bought and consumed purely as a symbol of wealth and is made from keratin, a protein found in fingernails and hair. It’s so valuable that it can get up to $65,000 per kilo on The Black Market. People value the horn because it can be used as medicine for curing hangovers, others use it to honor terminally ill relatives.  

     Today many poachers have sophisticated equipment to track and kill white rhinos. They use tranquilizer guns to bring the animal down, then they hack off the horn leaving the rhino to wake up and slowly bleed to death. The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to poaching because it’s unaggressive and lives in herds. Out of all five species of rhinoceros, the white rhino is the biggest and the least likely to attack a poacher.  

     There are things people can do to stop poaching like donating money to Khama Rhino Sanctuary, training to become an anti-poaching ranger, and offer cash rewards for anyone that has any information about poachers.  Penalties for poaching can often lead to temporary or permanent hunting license revocations.  Poachers can also receive monetary fines, and even jail time or imprisonment. If poaching isn’t stopped the Black rhino, Sumatran rhino, Javan rhino, and the Greater-one horned rhino could all go extinct. Many people don’t understand why it’s so important to keep these animals safe, but once they’re gone they’re gone for good.