One of the last remaining northern white rhinos has died, leaving just four left. The species faces imminent extinction after Nabire, a 31-year-old female northern white rhino residing at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, passed away on 28 July.

Nabire, who was born in captivity on 15 November 1983, perished after a cyst ruptured. Jiri Hruby, a curator at the Eastern European zoo, stated that there was no way to treat the condition. "The pathological cyst inside the body of Nabire was huge," he said.

Premysl Rabas, the director at Dvur Kralove Zoo, said that the death was "a loss hard to describe. Nabire's death has brought another animal species close to complete extinction."

northern white rhino
Sudan - the last surviving northern white rhino male Reuters

It leaves the breed with little chance of surviving through natural means as the only remaining white rhino male, a 42-year-old named Sudan, has little chance of reproduction due to his age. His hind legs are weakening and sperm count lowering as the northern white rhino nears the end of his 50-year average life expectancy at a conservation park in Kenya.

However, hopes still remain that the species could be saved via artificial insemination or through other scientific methods.

Rabas said: "It is our moral obligation to try to save them. We are the only ones, perhaps with San Diego Zoo, who have enough of collected biological material to do so."