Due to poaching and civil wars, the northern white rhino subspecies is considered extinct in the wild.
Poaching and civil wars in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring Sudan have had a devastating impact on northern white rhino, Ceratotherium simum cottoni. Whilst poaching pressure initially increased during civil unrest and war in the late 1990s, good reproduction enabled the population to remain relatively stable. Numbers were believed to have stood at around 2,360 in 1960.
However, since 2003, poaching escalated and the population declined rapidly with 11 carcasses found in a three-month period between March and May 2004. Confirmed numbers of northern white rhino fell from 30 individuals in Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo in April 2003 to just four in August 2005, confirmed by surveys. No live rhino have been seen since 2006 or signs of live rhino, such as spoor or dung, reported since 2007 despite intensive systematic foot surveys. It is believed that the northern white rhino has probably gone extinct in the wild.
Reports of a few possible northern white rhino surviving in a remote part of Southern Sudan have yet to be confirmed although surveys are planned.
The last three potential breeding northern white rhino in captivity have been moved to a private conservancy in Kenya in the hope that a move to more wild conditions will stimulate them to breed.
• Image | © Phil Newberry, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (Emslie, 2012; Emslie & Brooks, 1999; Koopmans, 2012)