And then the last male northern white rhino dies

RosanneLuxury Safari

last northern white rhino

We think we have all the time in the world and that nothing changes.

And then the very last northern white rhino male dies. 

On Tuesday, March 20th, 2018, the last male northern white rhino died at home, in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. This heralds the end of the line for northern white rhino’s; the end of a species.

What is a northern white rhino?

White rhino family tree

The northern white rhino is most closely related to the southern white rhino, the second of only two white rhino subspecies. They form half of the Dicerotini tribe, along with fellow African, the black rhino.

White rhino: a square-lipped rhino

The name ‘white’ rhino comes from the Afrikaans word for ‘wide’ which was used to describe the wide mouth when distinguishing the rhino from its close relation, the black, or ‘hook-lipped’, rhino.

Habitat of northern white rhino

The northern white used to be found across East and Central Africa, now the two remaining are grazing in the savanna of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The last known wild northern white rhinos were in Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Difference between black and white rhino

White rhino’s have wide, flat lips which are great for grazing, whereas black rhino’s have long more pointed lips which are great for eating foliage.
White rhino’s are quite a big bigger than their black relations, and hang their heads lower. The black rhino has a noticeable arch in its back.

Black rhino and white rhino: different mouths

what's the difference between a black and white rhino: black rhino

Black Rhino

What's the difference between black and white rhino: white rhino

White rhino

What happened to the last male northern white rhino?

There were 500,000 rhinos at the beginning of the 20th century, now you will be lucky to find 5,000 black rhino; however white rhino stand at around 20,000. For now.

Rhino’s are killed by poaching at a rate of 3 rhino’s per day. It is this, and habitat loss, which has endangered these animals. Could a zoo be a good place to protect rhino?

In the 1970s, Dvůr Králové Zoo took delivery of one of the last wild northern white rhinos – a male called Sudan. He fared well in Czech Republic and sired two females. However, further breeding efforts at the zoo were proving increasingly futile, and so in 2009 it was decided that all four white rhino at the zoo – Najin, Fatu, Sudan and Suni – should be moved to the grasslands of Kenya.

Although hopes off offspring were raised over the years with a few false alarms, sadly with the death of male Suni in 2014, and with confirmation in 2015 that neither of the females was capable of natural reproduction, it was recognised that the species was doomed.

Sudan was left to live out his days in the conservancy and died of natural causes.

The answer the question ‘what is a northern white rhino’ is now simple: it is Najin and Fatu. These are the mother and daughter pair who are the only northern white rhino’s left who are living out their days under the watch of armed guards, in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

What can I do?

All may not be lost. Genetic material was taken from Sudan before he died, and there are hopes of future efforts to bring back the species. In the mean time, you can get involved with rhino conservation for the rhino’s that are left. Poaching is still a huge threat, with millions of people in Vietnam and China particularly believing that rhino horn can be used to cure fever, rheumatism, snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, and more.

Rhino poaching in Africa: rhno

How to help save the rhino

  • Connector.

    Support Save the Rhino

    Become a member of, and get the kids to join – Save the Rhino

  • Connector.

    Go and see rhino in Africa

    Bring your tourism dollar to those protecting the rhino. Make tourism more valuable than poaching

  • Connector.

    Share photos and stories

    Share your rhino photos to bring awareness; share stories – yours and others

  • Connector.

    Volunteer at a conservation organisation

    Can you use a computer? Offer your services as an email-writer. Can’t use a computer? Volunteer as an envelope-sticker?

About the Author
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Rose co-founded the Good Safari Guide and the Safari Awards in 2007, key independent media organisations which have been informing the trade reliably since their inception. Today, Rose lives in London with her son, Barnaby, from where she heads up the Abambo team. Rose’s passion is to share knowledge and hatch plans with travel-savvy people who love nature. Contact Rose at