Preventing extinction: The last doesn't have to mean the end

There are three northern white rhinos left in the world – the last of their sub-species. Sudan, Najin, and Fatu live in the beautiful African savanna of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, but are no longer able to breed naturally.

What does this mean for their future? After getting to know the three rhinos by helping with their daily care, I got an up-close view as to what the extinction of a sub-species might look like... But it’s not all doom and gloom – there might be hope for a new rhino calf in the future.

March 2018 update from Olivia Urbanski:

Sudan died on March 19, just a couple of weeks after this video was made. His age-related health complications suddenly became more serious and Sudan was soon in so much pain that he was unable to stand up. The difficult decision was then made by the veterinary team from Ol Pejeta, Dvůr Králové Zoo, and Kenya Wildlife Service to euthanize him.

Sudan’s death garnered international attention and hit me harder than expected. Upon waking up to the news notifications on my phone, I began crying. I didn’t want to believe it. Sudan was gone. My friends and my family would never be able to have the experience that I had with Sudan. We’re down to two. My thoughts soon turned to my friends who worked as rangers and care takers at Ol Pejeta – those who dedicated their lives to Sudan and the royal girls, often spending more time with the rhinos than their own families. I couldn’t imagine the pain they were going through.

But why were we mourning the death of a single rhino when there is so much other pain and suffering in this world – even in our own communities? Because Sudan has marked a notable turning point. Humans are the direct cause of the northern white rhinos’ demise and we have two options going forward. We can either learn from our mistakes by changing our ways, or continuing down this path that is destructive to animals, to our planet, and soon to ourselves. Now more than ever before, we need to understand the implications and components that go into saving a species from extinction. If we fail to act, the rhinos and so many other creatures may live within our imagination. We must admit our failure and change our ways, to prevent this from occurring again.

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