African rhino populations boom, but one species goes bust

While many rhino populations in Africa have grown in recent years, one rare sub-species may have been completely lost.

As of two years ago, only four northern white rhinoceros lived in their only habitat, the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Garamba National Park. Unfortunately, recent fieldwork has failed to turn up any evidence that even these last four rhinos still exist, and researchers fear that they have falled prey to poachers' bullets.

According to Wikipedia, nine more northern white rhinos live in captivity in zoos in the United States and the Czech Republic. Several of those rhinos are in their late thirties, and reportedly only three of them are capable of breeding.

According to recent IUCN surveys, there are now 21,000 total rhinos in Africa: 17,480 southern white rhinos (up from 14,500 in 2005) and 4,180 critically endangered black rhinos (up from 3,730). The black rhino numbers represent three different sub-species.

The West African black rhino, another sub-species, was declared extinct in 2006.

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