Goodbye, White Rhino

The white rhino will enter extinction after the last male passed away.

Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhinoceros has died. The 45-year-old rhino really began to struggle with age related issues as well as multiple infections before a veterinary team had to make the tough decision to euthanize Sudan. Sudan lived at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where he was surrounded by armed guards to protect him from poachers.

Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta said, “He was a gentle Giant, his personality was just amazing and given his size, a lot of people were afraid of him. But there was nothing mean about him.”

Sudan may have passed on and be the last male northern white rhino, but it may not mean extinction of his breed as researchers were able to save some of Sudan’s genetic material in hopes of successfully artificially inseminating one of the last two females. Many researchers blame the demand for rhino horn in trade in China and Vietnam are to blame, as there is a big poaching epidemic in those countries. The reason rhino horn is so valuable is that it is believed that their horns cure various ailments. Also, rhino horn prices had sold for about 30-35 thousand dollars per kilogram as of 2015.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy took precautions for poaching, however, by placing radio transmitters on the animals and dispatched incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather more information on poaching. Some may have heard of Sudan, as he made headlines just last year when the Tinder dating app named him the “most eligible bachelor in the world” in a campaign to fundraise for the charity Save the Subspecies. All five remaining rhino species are considered threatened, and the western black rhino has already been declared extinct due to poaching.  The only two northern white rhinos left in the world are Sudan’s daughter Najin, and his granddaughter, Fatu. Sudan had failed to mate with females from a related rhino subspecies found in South Africa. The second-to-last male, Suni, passed away in 2014 via a heart attack. Both Sudan and Suni were likely to old to be fertile by the time they were brought to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Sudan was born in 1972, in southern Sudan when there were still about 1,000 northern white rhinos roaming earth, however, their habitat has been destroyed by human conflict. It also doesn’t help that rhinos are concentrated in countries riddled by war. They are killed for not only their horns, but also for their meat and exchanged for money. Sudan was sent to a zoo when he was just three years old in the Czech Republic. The efforts of the Conservancy are greatly appreciated, however, it was a little too late for a real turnaround.

Austin Edmonds