57-Year-Old Oldest Free-Ranging Black Rhino in the World Dies

CBS News
December 29, 2019 - 10:41 am
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A 57-year-old black rhino named Fausta died Friday in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. According to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Fausta was the oldest free-ranging black rhino in the world. 

Fausta was kept in captivity for the last three years of her survival. Dr. Freddy Manongi said she died of natural causes at the sanctuary after living the majority of her life in the wild. 

"Records show that Fausta lived longer than any rhino in the world and survived in the Ngorongoro, free-ranging, for more than 54 years" before bring moved to the sanctuary in 2016, Mangongi said in a statement on Saturday. 

Fausta was first spotted by a scientist from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1965, when she was just three years old. She was healthy until 2016, when she was moved into captivity following several attacks from hyenas that resulted in severe wounds. 

Fausta also lost her eyesight just before she was moved, making it even more difficult for her to survive in the wild. She never bore calves. 

According to Mangongi, a female southern white rhino named Sana was considered the world's oldest white rhino until she died in captivity in France at age 55. The oldest living black rhino in the United States, Elly, apparently died at the San Francisco Zoo at age 46. Both deaths occurred in 2017.

The life expectancy of rhinos is between 37 and 43 years in the wild and more than 50 years in captivity, Mangongi said. 

Black rhinos are critically endangered — close to extinction due to illegal poaching and habitat loss. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), only about 5,500 black rhinos are alive in the wild today, an improvement after their numbers dropped 98% to just 2,500 between 1960 and 1995.