The trade in rhino horn: asset stripping on an apocalyptic scale

There is only one northern white male rhinoceros left on the planet. Its home is 200km north of Nairobi in Kenya, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Joining Sudan, the male, are two female northern white rhinos. Together, they are three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos in the world.

The subspecies are on the verge of extinction, suffering greatly since poaching surged in the 1960s. According to The Guardian, a rhino’s horn can sell at prices upward of $75,000 per kilo (2.2 US pounds), leaving them under great threat.

So what is the solution? Unfortunately we lost the only other two males in 2014. In an end-of-the-world-like crisis, the future of the subspecies lies on Sudan.

A team of conservationists and scientists are turning to artificial fertilization techniques in a desperate attempt to save the species. Sex cell samples will be collected and stored, while scientists run appropriate tests before they can attempt to use a southern white rhino as a surrogate.

In the meantime, caretakers and patrol units deployed around the ranges in Africa are doing their best to fight poaching head-on.

Additional reporting by European Pressphoto Agency and The Guardian.

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Rangers prepare to leave for anti-poaching patrols at Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nanyuki, some 200km north of Nairobi, Kenya. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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A rhino caretaker Mohammed Doyo (Front) caresses 25-year-old female northern white rhino, Najin, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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Anti-poaching rangers rest in a radio room while patrolling the conservancy. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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Sudan, the last remaining male northern white rhinoceros on the planet, is fed by a caretaker at Ol Pejeta. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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An anti-poaching ranger patrols on foot as a giraffe walks in the distance at Ol Pejeta. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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A computer screen showing GPS-tracked anti-poaching patrol units is monitored by a radio operator in the radio room at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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Rhino caretaker Mohammed Doyo gestures to a southern white rhino. The caretakers help ensure visitors stay safe. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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An anti-poaching ranger points at a human footprint as he and his partner patrol on foot. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
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Caretaker Mohammed Doyo feeds 25-year-old female northern white rhinoceros, Najin, (center), and her companion. IMAGE: DAI KUROKAWA/EPA

See also: Rhino Poachers In South Africa Set Terrible New Record