Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino has died following ‘age-related complications’, researchers have sadly announced.
A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said the 45-year-old animal was put to sleep 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, with a deep infection on his back right leg.
It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). #SudanForever #TheLoneBachelorGone #Only2Left pic.twitter.com/1ncvmjZTy1
— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 20, 2018
The rhino had been part of an ambitious effort to save the subspecies from extinction after decades of decimation by poachers, with the help of the two surviving females.
One is his daughter, Najin, and the other is her daughter, Fatu.
The reserve said Sudan ‘stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength’.
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Richard Vigne, the conservancy’s CEO, said: ‘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.’
Sudan was something of a celebrity, attracting thousands of visitors and was lat year listed as ‘the most eligible bachelor in the world’ on the Tinder dating app in a fundraising effort.
The last male northern white rhino had been born in Sudan, the last of his kind to be born in the wild.
He was taken to a Czech zoo and then transferred to Kenya in 2009 with the three other remaining fertile northern white rhinos at the time. They were placed under 24-hour armed guard and fed a special diet.
Rangers caring for Sudan described him as gentle and, as his condition worsened in recent weeks, expressed sadness over his imminent death.
The rhino ‘significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females’, the conservancy said.
They added: ‘Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies.’
Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, said Sudan’s death ‘is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him, but we should not give up’.
He added: ‘It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring.’
Heather Sohl, chief adviser for wildlife at conservation charity WWF said: ‘The death of Sudan is heartbreaking.
‘We’re seeing the extinction of the northern white rhino happen right before our eyes, driven by the insatiable demand for their horns.
‘To ensure other wildlife doesn’t suffer this fate, we need strong action such as cutting demand, cracking down on corruption, and improving enforcement.
Northern white rhinos once roamed parts of Chad, Sudan, Uganda and the Central African Republic, and were particularly vulnerable because of the armed conflicts that have swept the region over decades.