The world's last three Northern white rhinos live in a conservancy in Kenya after decades of rampant poaching have pushed them to brink of extinction. The northern white rhinoceros, or northern square-lipped rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), is one of the two subspecies of the white rhinoceros (the other being the southern white rhinoceros). Formerly found in several countries in East and Central Africa south of the Sahara, it is extremely rare and listed as critically endangered. This subspecies is a grazer in grasslands and savanna woodlands. As of 2017, there are only three rhinos of this subspecies left with only one being male and unable to reproduce due to advanced age. They all belong to the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic but live in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and are protected round-the-clock by armed guards. According to the latest IUCN's assessment from 2011, the subspecies is considered "Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild)".
The northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) formerly ranged over parts of northwestern Uganda, southern South Sudan, the eastern part of Central African Republic, and northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their range possibly extended as far west as Lake Chad, into Chad and Cameroon. Poachers reduced their population from 500 to 15 in the 1970s and 1980s. From the early 1990s through mid-2003, the population recovered to more than 32 animals. Since mid-2003, poaching has intensified and further reduced the wild population.
Garamba National Park
The last surviving population of wild northern white rhinos was in Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In January 2005, the government of the DRC approved a two-part plan for five northern white rhinos to be moved from Garamba National Park to a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. The second part commits the government and its international partners to increase conservation efforts in Garamba, so the northern white rhinos can be returned when it is safe again. However, the translocation did not occur.
In August 2005, ground and aerial surveys conducted under the direction of African Parks Foundation and the African Rhino Specialist Group (ARSG) had only found four animals, a solitary adult male and a group of one adult male and two adult females. They were the last known wild northern white rhinos, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. In June 2008, it was reported that the species may have gone extinct in the wild, since there has been no sighting of these four known remaining individuals since 2006, or of their signs since 2007, despite intensive systematic ground and aerial searches in 2008. One carcass has been found. On 28 November 2009, two Russian helicopter pilots reported seeing Northern White Rhinos in southern Sudan. It was assumed that the three rhinoceroses that were spotted belong to this subspecies, as other rhinoceroses have not been living in the area for a long time. However, as of August 2011, no other sightings have been reported, and this population is now considered to have probably gone extinct.
At the beginning of 2015, the fully captive northern white rhino population consisted of only two animals maintained in two zoological institutions: in the United States (San Diego Zoo Safari Park) and the Czech Republic (Dvůr Králové Zoo). However, both of them died later the same year, and no zoo in the world has any northern white rhinos any longer.