The world’s last male northern white rhino has died after a long illness leaving behind only two females to save the species from extinction. Nick Ames has more
Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, died at the age of 45 in Kenya on Monday, taking his species one step closer to extinction.
The rhino, who was 90 in human years, died after ‘age-related complications’, researchers announced, saying he ‘stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.’
A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said the rhino was euthanised on Monday after his condition ‘worsened significantly’ and he was no longer able to stand. His muscles and bones had degenerated and his skin had extensive wounds.
Sudan had been part of an ambitious effort to save the subspecies from extinction with the help of the two surviving females. Despite having a low sperm count which caused complications with conception, he was able to father two female rhinos.
Sudan ‘significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females,’ the Conservancy said.
Hope for saving the northern white rhino from complete extinction may still be credible in the form of increasingly advanced vitro fertilisation (IVF)
‘We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilised for conservation of critically endangered species,’ Jan Stejskal, an official at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Sudan had lived until 2009 told AFP news agency.
‘It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring.’
Sudan was once listed as ‘The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World’ in a fundraising effort to pay for the IVF procedure.
‘He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,’ said the conservancy’s CEO, Richard Vigne.
The subspecies’ population across Africa was largely annihilated during the poaching crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, fuelled by demand for rhino horn for use in traditional Chinese medicine.