NAIROBI. – Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, has died in Kenya at the age of 45, after becoming a symbol of efforts to save his subspecies from extinction, a fate that only science can now prevent.
When Sudan was born in 1973 in the wild in Shambe, South Sudan, there were about 700 of his kind left in existence.
At his death, there are only two females remaining alive and the hope that in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques will advance enough to preserve the sub-species.
Sudan, elderly by rhino standards, had been ailing for some time, suffering from age-related infections, according to his keepers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
“His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team… made the decision to euthanize him.”
Sudan lived out his final years on a 36,400-hectare reserve of savannah and woodlands in central Kenya, along with the two remaining females, under armed guard to protect them from poachers.
“We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. 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 Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO.
Ironically, Sudan’s death comes as hundreds of scientists and government envoys gather in Colombia at a biodiversity crisis summit for a global appraisal of mass species extinction.
Scientists have gathered Sudan’s genetic material and are working on developing in-vitro fertilisation techniques to preserve the subspecies. – AFP