Quantcast

World's Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Offutt Air Force Base after flooding on March 17. U.S. Air Force / TSgt. Rachelle Blake

The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.

Read More Show Less
A regenerating stand of rainforest in northern Costa Rica. Matthew Fagan / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Fagan, Leighton Reid and Margaret Buck Holland

Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.

At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Compassion Over Killing

By Cheryl Leahy

Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.

Read More Show Less

By Jeremy Deaton

A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.

Read More Show Less
d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Common sense should not be taken for granted when people are discussing nutrition.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A fire erupted Sunday at a petrochemical plant in Deer Park, Texas. NowThis News / YouTube screenshot

By Andrea Germanos

A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.

The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."

"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.

Read More Show Less
Poppy superbloom in Lake Elsinore, Calfornia on March 13. cultivar413 / CC BY 2.0

The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
The Humane Society of the United States uncovered a one-year pesticide test on 36 beagles contracted by Dow AgroSciences at a Michigan lab. The Humane Society of the United States / YouTube screenshot

A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.

"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.

Read More Show Less