One of the five remaining white rhino females has died at a Czech zoo.
Things are not looking good for the white rhino with the announcement of the death of Nabire, a 31-year-old female white rhino at the Dvůr Králové zoo in the Czech Republic on Monday.
The cause of death was the rupture of a cyst. The rhino had lived its whole life at the zoo.
“The pathological cyst inside the body of Nabire was huge. There was no way to treat it.” said Jiří Hrubý, one of the zoo’s rhino curators in a statement on the zoo’s website.
The death brings the total number of remaining white rhinos down to four; one male and three females. One is a female in The San Diego Zoo. The remaining three rhinos, two females and one male, are living at the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya. The species is so threatened, the male rhino, named Sudan, is guarded there night and day by armed guards.
Nabire’s death is a big blow to any potential survival of the species.
“Her death is a symbol of the catastrophic decline of rhinos due to a senseless human greed,” said Přemysl Rabas, Dvůr Králové Zoo’s director in the statement. “Her species is on the very brink of extinction.”
White rhino numbers have been slowly decreasing for decades. Black-market demand for their horns led to poaching of them into extinction in their home areas. Numerous attempts have been made in recent years at both artificial insemination of the remaining female rhinos, and at getting the animals to breed naturally. All have been met with no results.
It didn’t help Nabire’s case that she had numerous cysts on her right ovary that meant the rhino could not conceive naturally. The zoo also said in their statement that Nabire’s left ovary seemed to be healthy and has been removed for research purposes.
Researchers and zoologists aren’t giving up on the species just yet.
“It’s our moral obligation to try and save them,” Rabas said. “We are the only ones, perhaps with San Diego Zoo, who have enough of collected biological material to do so. We are aware that our chances are slim, but the hopes are still alive.”