Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

World's Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies

Animals
Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The world's last male northern white rhino has died, leaving only two females left to save the subspecies from extinction, the wildlife conservancy taking care of him announced Tuesday.

The 45-year-old rhinoceros, named Sudan, was euthanized Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.


He was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in his muscles and bones and also gave him extensive skin wounds.

"His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal," Ol Pejeta said in a statement. "The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him."

Sudan previously lived at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic before being moved to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in 2009.

"During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength," the conservancy said.

"Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo," the conservancy said. "Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females."

Sudan lived at Ol Pejeta with his daughter and granddaughter—the last two females of the same species—27-year-old Najin and 17-year-old Fatu.

"The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques," the conservancy said.

Ol Pejeta, Dvůr Králové Zoo and its partners at ZW Berlin, Avantea Cremona and the Kenya Wildlife Service will "try and conduct the first-ever procedure to safely remove egg cells from remaining females, fertilize these with semen previously collected from northern white males, and insert the resulting embryos into female southern white rhinos acting as surrogates," the conservancy said.

This procedure has never been done before in rhinos and does not come without risks, Ol Pejeta noted. The estimated cost of IVF—from development of the method, to trials, implantation and the creation of a viable breeding herd of northern whites—could be as much as $9 million.

"Sudan was the last northern white rhino that was born in the wild. His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him. But we should not give up. We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilized for conservation of critically endangered species," said Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at Dvůr Králové Zoo.

"It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring. We will be happy for everyone who will help us in our joint effort."

The northern white rhino originally ranged in vast numbers in East and Central Africa but habitat loss, conflict and poaching the animals for their prized horns has pushed their population to the brink of extinction. By the mid-2003 there were only 32 of the animals left in the wild. Now, with Sudan's passing, only two remain.

Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta's CEO said the conservancy is 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," Vigne said. "One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide."

Rhino populations around the world are at a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that used to roam Earth in the early 20th century.

Tributes around the world have since poured in. Bindi Irwin, conservationist and daughter of the late Steve Irwin, said Sudan's death was a "heartbreaking" loss.

"Now, more than ever, we must stand together and protect our rhinos," she added.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less