The Last Male Northern White Rhino Has Died

The rhinos are so rare and vulnerable, they are given their own 24-hour protection. Tierney Ferrell

Josh Davis 20 Mar 2018, 12:26

The last male northern white rhino has died.

This means that only two female northern white rhino are now known to exist and as the current situation stands, the subspecies is set to go extinct. All hopes will now be pinned on using IVF to bring the rhino back from extinction, although the technology is yet to prove its worth. 

The last male, named Sudan, was living out his years at the Ol Pajeta Conservancy, Kenya, after having moved there from a Czech zoo in 2009. At 45 years old, he was considered an old man, but after contracting an infection in his back right leg the odds really were stacked against him. In the end, it was decided that the best option for the welfare of Sudan was to euthanize him.  

Sudan is survived by his daughter and granddaughter. Jan Stejskal

“We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death,” said Richard Vigne, the CEO of Ol Pajeta. “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.”

“One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide.”

Mud, mud, glorious mud...

When Sudan was caught in the wild in 1973, it was thought that 500 wild northern white rhino survived, with a few dozen in captivity. Now there are just two.

This might not be the end, though. There are massive efforts to use the 20,000 or so southern white rhino to save their northern cousins. Before he died, researchers froze samples of Sudan’s DNA, including his valuable sperm. The plan is to use IVF to bring the subspecies back from extinction, implanting embryos created with eggs from the two surviving females into surrogate southern white rhinos to produce calves. As this has never been successfully done with rhinos before, the clock is now ticking.

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