Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, has died following a series of age-related health complications and infections. The 45-year-old rhino has been at the center of global attention because unless science can perform a technological miracle, the northern white rhino – which once roamed East and Central Africa in vast numbers – will die with him.
“Sudan was the last male northern white rhino on the planet,” said the staff at Ol Pejeta, a conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya. “His death leaves just two females; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta.”
His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours, and he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal, the conservancy said Tuesday. The decision was made to euthanize him.
The conservancy described the loss as a “human fail of epic proportions” driven by irresponsibility and greed. Conflict, poaching and habitat loss driven by human activity have eliminated the northern white rhino.
The last remaining wild population made up of 20-30 rhinos in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were lost to fighting in the region during the 1990s and early 2000s, and followed the rhino’s demise in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad.
Sudan lived in Kenya with Najin and Fatu since 2009, when the animals came from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic to see if there might be a turnaround in their unsuccessful breeding attempts.
“Thankfully, Fatu and Najin, the last northern white females, are still in good health, and a roadmap for their regeneration is in place,” the conservatory said.
According to the conservancy, the two remaining females are unable to have babies but scientists are looking into reproductive options using their eggs and surrogate southern white rhinos. It’s never been done before.
“Sudan was the last northern white rhino that was born in the wild,” said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvůr Králové. “His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him. But we should not give up.”
Image: Ol Pejeta