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San Diego Zoo's Northern White Rhino Dies, Leaving Only Five Left In The World

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A northern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has died, meaning there are now only five left in the world. Angalifu, the Zoo's male northern white rhino, was 44, the L.A. Times reports, and died of old age. He lived there with an older female northern white rhino, Nola. There are three northern white rhinos in a preserve in Kenya and one more in a zoo in the Czech Republic.

As recently as 1960, there were over 2,000 northern white rhinos. The species dwindled rapidly as poachers hunted them for their horns. In 1984, only 15 were left. Conservation efforts attempted to increase the number of rhinos, but poachers turned to advanced methods, using helicopters and night-vision goggles.

The white rhino is the second largest land mammal in the world, and there are both northern and southern species. The southern rhinos are successfully being bred at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but northern rhinos haven't taken as well to these efforts. Nola and Angalifu were unable to produce any baby rhinos, and the conservation efforts in Kenya have met similar failure.

According to CNN, someone who deals in rhino horns—which can fetch a profit of $30,000 per pound in Asia where some believe the horns have healing properties—could make more money than someone who sells illegal drugs. However, the punishment for selling drugs is currently more severe.

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Below is a video of Angalifu and Nola from October, shortly after the death of a 34-year-old male northern white rhino in Kenya.