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ON THE BRINK OF GOING EXTINCT
Imagine this: 30,000 northern white rhinos, grazing on the long grass, enjoying the hot summer sun. Now, ten years later, there are almost none left. The hope for this species has died out, just like them. Or so it seems.
Rhinos in general are known to be endangered, as many people hunt them for their horns. A lot of people believe that rhino horns have the power to cure diseases, but that is just a myth. In truth, rhino horn is made of the exact same thing as our fingernails: keratin. Unfortunately, many people do not have access to the educational resources I do, and have no way of knowing the truth, so the killing of rhinos goes on. Now we are close to killing off an entire sub-species. Currently, there are only two northern white rhinos that we know of in the entire world. Their names are Fatu and Najin and they are currently living at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Sadly, they are both female, and unable to carry children, bringing our hope for the species to an ultimate low. Nevertheless, there might just be a way to save them.
Scientists have a theory. As you may know, sometimes people have issues having kids. But in this modern age, you can have a surrogate if you are unable to carry your child. Now, some scientists have started thinking that maybe, we might be able to save endangered species with this method. In previous years, some zoos have saved embryos from endangered animals. They can then place these embryos inside females of the species closest relatives and let them serve as surrogates. For the northern white rhinos, their closest relatives are the southern white rhinos. These too are threatened with extinction, but are still in much better shape then the northern white rhinos, as there have been many more efforts to save the southern whites. The San Diego Safari Park is in charge of this project and is ready to get going. If the surrogacy proves successful, scientists can continue to use this method, until we have enough northern white rhinos to release back into the wild.
One of the best parts of this experiment is the amount of life this method could bring back. If this project works, we could save hundreds of other endangered species and bring their populations back to normal. When animals go extinct, it can rattle nature in ways that most wouldn’t think possible. With this new method, we wouldn't have to deal with this threat anymore. Surely the best way to deal with the plight of rhinos is by ending poaching, but that would take years, and we don't have that kind of time. Which brings up a sad topic. Animal populations are rapidly declining throughout the planet and although we now have some hope, we need to find a permanent solution. If you would like to help, you can head over to https://rhinos.org to learn more or donate.
On a happier note, this new scientific discovery will give us more time to find better solutions, and hopefully, if it works, it could keep populations stable until we can keep them safe forever.
“San Diego Zoo Safari Park.” San Diego Zoo Safari Park, www.sdzsafaripark.org/.
Karimi, Faith, and Bethlehem Feleke. “There Are 2 Northern White Rhinos Left Worldwide. Scientists Have Created Embryos to Save the Animal.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Sept. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/09/12/africa/northern-white-rhino-embryos-trnd/index.html.