Angalifu, a rare white rhino who was being treated for age-related conditions is dead – he was 44. Angalifu died over the weekend at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and his death brings the total remaining number of rare white rhinos on earth to five – one at a zoo in the Czech Republic, one at the Safari Park, and three in Africa.
According to Randy Rieches, the curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, “Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us. Not only because he was well beloved here at the Park but also because his death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction.”
Angalifu was the sixth of the northern white rhinoceros remaining on earth – and his kind is endangered because of the activities of poachers in Africa. The five remaining ones are not productive any longer, and this means the rare animals could go extinct in a few years if urgent preservation procedures are not taken to reproduce their kinds or protect them from poachers.
Poachers kill rhinos for their horns in the wild because it is believed to have medicinal values. Out of all the 30,000 rhinos there are on earth, Rieches believe one is killed by poaching every eight hours.
The semen and testicular tissues of Angalifu, the deceased northern white rhino have been kept at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s “Frozen Zoo” against the hope that it could be used to impregnate southern white rhinos to produce pure northern white variety. The only problem is just that artificial insemination with rhinos is much more difficult to achieve than with other animals like cattle.