One rhino's inability to become a mother might not seem like a big deal, but because rhino populations are plummeting, every baby helps. If Titilei could breed, her rhino calf could help usher in a next generation of rhinos to help grow the ailing and dwindling rhino populations of Africa. In some places, rhino poaching has gone up 9,000 percent, and there are only about 20,000 white rhinos left in the world.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was determined to help Titilei. A team of its veterinarians conducted experimental surgery to help remedy Titilei's rare condition. "The whole operation was riddled with uncertainty," Lewa told The Dodo. "No one was sure what the outcome would be."
After the treatment, rangers kept close watch on Titilei, who appeared normal and healthy, but still didn't have a child. "This condition is extremely rare in white rhinos (and other mega herbivores), and the outcome of the treatment was uncertain as it is equally rarely successful," Dr. Matthew Mutinda, Lewa's vet, said.