Kenyan conservancy euthanises last male northern white rhino; only two females remain

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sudan at Ol Pejata Conservancy in 2010.
Image: Lengai101.

Yesterday, Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced they had euthanised the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, on Monday, after consulting with wildlife officials. Sudan was 45-years-old, and now only two northern white rhinos, both female and descendants of Sudan, remain.

"Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds", the conservancy said. "His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal", they added.

Sudan, who was born in the early 1970s, suffered a wound in his right hind leg in late February. He was born in South Sudan, and at that time around 700 northern white rhinos were alive.

Sudan was in captivity for the last 38 years. Earlier, he was kept at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic before he was moved to Kenya. He stayed in a 90 thousand acre (about 140 square mile, 364 square kilometre) reserve with the only two remaining female northern white rhinos, 27-year-old Najin and seventeen-year-old Fatu. Najin and Fatu are Sudan's daughter and granddaughter, respectively.

Ol Pejeta said they collected Sudan's genetic material on Monday. The conservancy said, "The only hope for the preservation of the subspecies now lies in developing in-vitro fertilisation techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females."

Last year, an account was opened on dating platform Tinder on Sudan's behalf, to raise money for a fertility treatment after attempts at natural mating proved futile. Suni, second to last male of the subspecies, died four years ago, in October 2014 in San Diego Zoo, US. He was 42.

Ol Pejeta's CEO, Richard Vigne, said Sudan "was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally on the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unstable human activity".

In 2008, the World Wildlife Foundation declared northern white rhinos extinct in the wild.