RIP Sudan: World’s last surviving male northern white rhino dies at age 45

RIP Sudan: World’s last surviving male northern white rhino dies at age 45

The last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya at the age of 45,  on Monday 19 March, leaving only two females of his subspecies alive at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya’s Laikipia County.

Sudan “was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds,” according to a statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy where he lived under armed guard to prevent poaching.

“His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dver Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanise him.”

Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO, said Sudan’s death was a major blow to global conservation efforts, especially those aimed at saving endangered species.

“We at Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death,” said Richard Vigne. “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.

The northern white rhino population in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad was largely wiped out during the poaching crisis of the 1970s and 80s, fuelled by demand for rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia and dagger handles in Yemen.

A final remaining wild population of about 20-30 rhinos in the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed in fighting in the late 90s and early 2000s, and by 2008 the northern white rhino was considered extinct in the wild.

Another male rhino, Suni, died of natural causes in October 2014.

Theoretically, the death of Sudan assures the extinction of this subspecies of rhino.

After all attempts at getting him to mate naturally failed, conservationists last year put Sudan on dating app Tinder, hoping to raise enough money to pay for a $9 million fertility treatment.

“During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.” – Ol Pejeta

In Vitro Fertilisation

Hope for preserving the northern white rhino now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques. Scientists have gathered his genetic material and are working on new methods to preserve the subspecies.

“Sudan was the last northern white rhino that was born in the wild. His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him,” said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo.

“But we should not give up. We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilized for conservation of critically endangered species. It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring. We will be happy for everyone who will help us in our joint effort.”

For a tribute to Sudan, more information and donations, please visit:

http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org

 

 

 

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