Rhino Species Down to Last 6

One of last 2 breeding male northern white rhinos dead
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2014 12:11 AM CDT
Updated Oct 20, 2014 5:03 AM CDT
Rhino Species Down to Last 6
Suni walks in his pen shortly after arriving at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2009.   (AP Photo/Riccardo Gangale)

The critically endangered northern white rhino has taken another step toward sharing the fate of the dodo—or the western black rhino. The first of the species to be born in captivity has been found dead at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya, leaving the world with just six of the rhinos and only a single male capable of breeding, reports the Guardian. Suni, who was brought to Kenya from a Czech zoo in 2009 to take part in a last-ditch breeding program to save the species, was found dead by park rangers. The cause of death is unclear, but authorities don't believe poaching was involved. Suni's father died of natural causes at the same age.

But while poaching wasn't involved in this death, it was demand for rhino horn that reduced the species from more than 2,000 as recently as 1960 to today's handful of survivors, the Telegraph reports. "Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world and no northern white rhinos are known to have survived in the wild," the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said in a statement. "Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race. We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf." (In happier news for wildlife, America's only native stork has come back from the brink of extinction.)

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