One of the last remaining northern white rhinos in the world has died in Kenya, raising concerns over the future of the sub-species.
The 34 year old, male called Suni, ‘capable of breeding,’ died on Friday in captivity at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, leaving only three at the reserve.
Officials at the conservancy are yet to establish the cause of his death, but have so far ruled out any incidence of poaching.
“Suni was not a victim of poaching and we have yet to establish the cause of his sudden death. The Kenya Wildlife Service vets will conduct a post mortem as soon as possible,” said a statement from Ol Pejeta.
Suni together with one other male and two females, were translocated from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech republic to Ol Pejeta in 2009 after death of his father Saút by natural causes at the same age in 2006.
He was brought to Africa as part of a breeding programme to save the endangered species.
There are only six northern white rhinos left in the world, most of them succumbing to poaching in the East and Central Africa for their lucrative horns-mostly used in Asian nations for medicinal purposes.
Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world and no northern white rhinos are known to have survived in the wild.
“Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,” said Ol Pejeta communication office.
“We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf,” said the statement.
Czech is the only zoo in the world that has succeeded in breeding the sub-species in captivity.