Saturday, October 18, 2014

And Then There Were Six ...

Today our world changed.
Not just the world for Dylan and myself, but "our world" in a sense of all mankind.

I knew this day would come sooner or later, but I wasn't expecting it so soon.
While scrolling through my twitter feed this morning I saw this "We are one step closer to the extinction of the northern white rhino. The remaining 6 animals are older as well."

What? There must be a typo because I know for a fact that there are 7 northern white rhinos left. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Opened them and clicked the link that accompanied these words. 

Tears began to roll down my face. "Damn it. No. Damn it." I said these words over and over out loud. As if saying them would make it all go away. 

There was no typo in the tweet from my friend.
There are now only six remaining northern white rhinos on the Earth. 

The heading read ... Breaking News: Ol Pejeta Conservancy loses one of its northern white rhinos - It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of our northern white rhinos, Suni.

Rest In Peace Suni ... you are now eternally free from any harm.

According to the press release, rangers found him on the morning of October 17th, 2014, dead in his boma. Suni was not a victim of poaching and we have yet to establish the cause of his sudden death. The Kenya Wildlife Service vets will conduct a post mortem as soon as possible. In 2006, his father Saút died in the Dvur Kralove Zoo by natural causes at the same age as Suni was now.

Through the tears and the sadness I read aloud the entire press release to Dylan. All I could say when I finished reading was, "at least he didn't die from poachers". Dylan dealt with the situation better than I thought he would; however, I knew what we were both thinking. Thankful this wasn't Nola. One day this would be Nola though and that is a day I am not looking forward to.

When Dylan and I met Dr. Ryder earlier this year, he told us of plans using genetics and frozen DNA from his lab to possibly help save the northern white rhinos from extinction. These animals are truly on the brink of extinction and will most likely go extinct in our lifetime.

Last year I symbolically adopted one of the northern white rhinos living at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy for Dylan. Adopting Fatu was different from our other animal adoptions because these animals are so critically endangered. I hear people talking about extinction and how they don't think it will ever happen because "Science" will step in and save the day. Well, people ... it is happening.

Nola, resting by the waters edge at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

With only six left in the world, two (Nola and Angilfu) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, one (Nabire) at the Dvůr Králové Zoo, and three (Sudan, Najin, and Fatu) living at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where they are protected from poachers, this subspecies is tragically coming to an end.

Although it is difficult to write about these subjects, it is my hope that sharing Suni's story with others will help create more awareness about the plight of the northern white rhino.

*Photo of Suni courtesy of Ol Pejeta Conservancy

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