We seem to be receiving heart-breaking News every time the world reports about the northern white rhinoceros. Last Sunday, the world lost Nola, the beautiful 41 year-old rhinoceros who lived at San Diego's Safari Park. When her condition took a turn for the worst, her keepers made the decision to euthanize her. Earlier this year, she was suffering from multiple hip abscesses, and more recently a bacterial infection and several age-related health issues.

Her story

Nola was caught when she was almost a year and a half old in the Shambe region of Sudan. She was sent to DvÅr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, and since 1989 was on loan to the San Diego Zoo.

In 1996, attempts were made to have the two males Saut and Angalifu mate with Nola and another female named Nadi. Both females were given hormones so they would be more receptive to the males. Nola mated with Saut but never became pregnant.

The last three northern white rhinos

When she was alive, Nola was one of only four northern white rhinos in the world, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy is now home to the last three - Sudan (41), Najin (26) and Fatu (15). Sudan is the father of Najin and grandfather of Fatu making their mating impossible. Sadly, a variety of problems presented themselves in the past few years, preventing any of the living rhinos from reproducing. Nola was infertile as is Fatu, while Sudan has low sperm count. Attempts to impregnate Najin also failed in the Czech Republic.

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What is next?

A last ray of hope still shines, and you can actually be a part Ol Pejeta and Dvůr Králové Zoo's initiative to raise $1 million towards their GoFundMe campaign "Make A Rhino." 100% of the funds collected will go towards developing vitro fertilisation techniques and stem cell technology to help save the species. While both organizations acknowledge that they could fail in their bid to make a baby northern white rhinoceros, they "hope that you will agree that it is worth trying."

If any funds should remain whether they succeed or fail, the committee set up will reinvest the amount collected to help save the other remaining rhino subspecies.

What we can learn from the species

Being a larger endangered species, the northern white rhino has received heavy media coverage over the years. But it is left to be seen whether or not we will learn from their loss. There are hundreds of smaller, lesser-known species going extinct every single day. Plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks and other vertebrates, are silently slipping away unnoticed.

There is only one question: how many animal species do we have to lose before we wake up?

Lead image - Jeff Keeton

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