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Nanyuki, Kenya

Sas-Rolfes M.,Independent wildlife trade economist | Moyle B.,Massey University | Stiles D.,Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Recent elephant poaching levels are a serious concern for conservationists. Opinions differ over how to deal with the upsurge and associated illegal ivory trade. Following the CITES-imposed international trade ban voted in 1989, limited legal trade has been permitted in two one-off sales. Opinions are divided on what effect this has had on poaching. Opinions are now also divided over whether trade in ivory products should be outlawed worldwide, both between and within countries. In the midst of this debate is the question of what government agencies should do with existing stockpiles of collected legal and confiscated illegal ivory. Governments of some countries have destroyed their stockpiles with the claimed intent of reducing poaching, and there are calls for others to follow suit. We review the academic literature and available relevant data and find that under current circumstances, stockpile destruction violates the precautionary principle because the outcome is unknown; it is therefore not recommended. Credible evidence suggests that speculation may drive the current high poaching rates more than consumer demand for carvings. Legal stockpiles provide an option to curtail speculative behaviour of criminals. We recommend that governments move closer towards consensus on a long-term vision for elephant and ivory management before undertaking measures such as large-scale stockpile destruction. In the meantime they should continue to retain existing ivory stockpiles securely to reduce incentives for criminal speculation with illegally accumulated stockpiles. We recommend that research be carried out to understand better the dynamics of the current legal and illegal ivory trade systems in order to formulate evidence-based policy. © 2014, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved. Source

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Site: http://www.scientificamerican.com

The extinction of the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) draws ever closer. Nola, a 41-year-old female that has lived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1989, was euthanized this morning after she stopped eating and her activity levels dropped. Nola had undergone surgery on Nov. 13 to drain an infected abscess within her pelvic region. The surgery was successful, but the zoo reports that Nola’s condition worsened over the past 24 hours. With Nola’s death, there are now only three northern white rhinos left on the planet, all of which live at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The two remaining female rhinos are incapable of natural reproduction. The last surviving male, Sudan, has a very low sperm count but the conservancy still has hopes for in vitro fertilization. San Diego Zoo recently set aside $2 million as part of an effort to keep the species from going extinct by implanting northern white rhino embryos into surrogates from the related southern white rhino subspecies (C. s. simum). That plan may still come to fruition, as the zoo has a collection of suitable genetic material in its Frozen Zoo. Northern white rhinos went extinct in the wild after years of extensive poaching for their valuable horns, which are used in traditional Asian medicine. The last wild northern white rhinos were killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. Nola is being eulogized today on Twitter under the hashtag #Nola4Ever.

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Site: http://www.reuters.com

Nola, a 41-year-old rhino brought to the Southern California park in 1989 as part of a breeding program, took a turn for the worse over the weekend following a Nov. 13 surgical procedure to drain a large pelvic abscess identified as the infection source, the zoo said in a statement. The 4,000-pound (1,800-kg) rhino had been placed under constant veterinary watch last week as her appetite and activity levels declined. After her condition deteriorated significantly, caretakers decided to euthanize the animal, zoo officials said. "Nola was an iconic animal, not only at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but worldwide," the zoo said. "Through the years, millions of people learned about Nola and the plight of rhinos in the wild through visits to the Safari Park, numerous media stories and social media posts." Her gentle disposition and affinity for having her back scratched made her a favorite of zoo staff. Northern white rhinos were declared extinct in the wild in 2008 because of poaching for their horns, prized on the black market for their supposed medicinal properties in some cultures. Nola was the only member of her kind left in captivity in the Western Hemisphere. With her death, just three others remain, all at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, zoo officials said. Nola was born in the wild in Sudan and captured at about 2 years of age, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. She arrived in California from a Czech zoo. Her death came weeks after six southern white rhinos, close cousins of northern whites, were brought to San Diego from South Africa in an effort to bring Nola's kind back from the brink of extinction. Scientists remain unsure whether northern and southern white rhinos are two distinct species or subspecies of each other. Studies are under way to determine if southern whites, of which fewer than 20,000 are estimated to remain in the wild, are genetically similar enough to serve as maternal surrogates for implanted embryos that would be developed from northern white rhino DNA, zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons said. Wildlife experts say southern white rhinos are in dire straits, too, killed by poachers at the rate of three a day.

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Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

The last four northern white rhinos in the world are now down to three, as San Diego Zoo Safari Park loses Nola Sunday. The 41-year-old female northern white rhino, already geriatric, was euthanized by the safari park team after a week of listlessness and a massive pelvic abscess and bacterial infection. "In the past 24 hours Nola's condition had worsened significantly. Early this morning, the team made the difficult decision to euthanize her," read an official statement from the Safari Park. Nola’s death leaves the world with only three northern white rhinos, all protected 24/7 from poaching Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. In 1989, Sudan-born Nola arrived at the park in Southern California from a Czech zoo as part of a breeding initiative. The 4,000-pound rhino, the last of her kind held captive in the Western hemisphere, was considered an iconic and well-loved animal at the park and around the world. "Through the years, millions of people learned about Nola and the plight of rhinos in the wild through visits to the Safari Park, numerous media stories and social media posts," the zoo said of the dead rhino, which was endeared for her gentleness and affinity for back scratches from the zoo personnel. The news of Nola’s death came months after Angalifu, a 44-year-old northern white rhino, yielded to cancer at the same park. It also followed a couple of weeks after the transporting of six southern white rhinos — the northern whites’ close kin and with fewer than about 20,000 remaining in the wild — from South Africa to San Diego in an effort to save them from extinction. Poachers are estimated to kill about three from this breed every day. It is yet to be known if the southern and northern white rhinos are two separate species or are subspecies of one another. According to zoo spokesperson Christina Simmons, they will determine if the southern whites’ genes are similar enough to maternally surrogate embryos from northern white DNA. For some good news, a baby red panda was safely brought back to the Sequoia Park Zoo in the far northern coast of California after being lost four days earlier. The one-year-old panda was spotted walking about half a mile away from the zoo entrance until it was herded up a small tree by a concerned citizen, ready to be lured back to the zoo by staff.

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Site: http://news.yahoo.com/science/

The northern white rhino Nabiré, a 32-year-old female at the Dv?r Králové Zoo, died on July 27, 2015. Today, there are only three rhinos of this subspecies left. More With only three northern white rhinoceroses left on Earth, conservationists are giving up on traditional breeding efforts and turning to cutting-edge science to save this subspecies. At a meeting in Vienna from Dec. 3 to Dec. 6, researchers developed a plan to use stem cells to create fertilized rhino embryos, which will be carried by surrogate southern white rhino females. This past year has been a sad one for northern white rhinos, a rapidly disappearing subspecies destroyed by habitat loss and poaching. There were six northern whites on the planet, all in captivity, in December 2014. That month, the second-to-last male, Angalifu, died at the San Diego Zoo. That left Sudan, a 42-year-old rhino at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, as the only northern white male rhino on Earth. [In Photos: The Last Surviving Northern White Rhinos] Next to go was 31-year-old Nabiré, a female who died of a ruptured cyst at the Dv?r Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic in July. An infection claimed Nola, a 41-year-old female at the San Diego Zoo, in November. Now the only three remaining northern whites live at the Ol Pejeta reserve. Sudan still survives, but is too old to mount a female. And the two remaining females, Najin and Fatu, also have health problems that prevent them from reproducing the old-fashioned way. So scientists plan to collect egg and sperm cells from the last living northern whites and combine them with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These are cells taken from the rhino's body and chemically induced to turn back the clock to an earlier developmental phase, when cells are capable of becoming many different types of body tissue. The hope is that scientists can reverse-engineer body cells into sperm and egg cells. Fertilized embryos could then be made by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and transferred into southern white rhinoceroses, the northern white's nearest relative. But there are complications to this plan: No one has ever successfully completed IVF on a rhino of any species. Every species requires its own cell-culture conditions to mimic the unique environment of the uterus, Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive physiology at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, told Live Science in June. Depending on how long it takes to make the breakthroughs necessary to create rhino embryos in a lab, the species could go extinct before scientists successfully breed new individuals. One of the researchers at the Vienna meeting was Katsuhiko Hayashi, a scientist at Kyushu University, who successfully bred mice from eggs created from mouse skin cells in 2012. Researchers are now working to transfer this technology from mice to northern whites, according to a statement from the Dv?r Králové Zoo. The Czech zoo is working with San Diego Zoo Global, Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Austria and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin to lead the project. A white paper on the group's progress is expected next year. Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science. Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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