During Sudan‘s final days, he was surrounded by workers from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The animal was a gentle soul with an affectionate personality. His vet called him a sweetie-pie. He had been a rhino for nine years, beginning his life as a young rhino, rolling around in the African mud. For Vitale, Sudan’s life had come full circle.
The northern white rhino, Sudan, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on Monday. He was 45 and was suffering from age-related problems and infections, and his condition deteriorated quickly. Sudan’s death means that the northern white rhino population is now down to two. His daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu are thought to be the last two northern white rhinos in the world.
Sudan spent the last decade of his life under 24-hour guardianship at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. At 45, Sudan was beyond breeding age and suffering from painful degenerative changes in his bones and muscles. His veterinarians made the difficult decision to euthanize him. His death is a sad reminder of humans’ desperate measures to protect nature.
Suni, the last male white rhino, is in a precarious position. He’s unable to stand and suffering from a string of infections. The veterinary team in Kenya has fought for years to save the rhino. They are hoping that in-vitro fertilization with preserved sperm will save his life.
In 2009, Sudan and two other northern white rhinos were captured from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Poachers targeted the rhinos for their horns, so the animals were moved to Kenya to be saved. The animals were kept in a semi-wild setting, closer to their natural habitat, hoping that the climate would allow the rhinos to breed.
Sudan was 45 years old when he died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The rhino was suffering from infections and age-related problems. His condition worsened after he passed away. Sudan’s death means that the population of northern white rhinos on Earth is down to two. The female northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, were born in the wild.
Suni’s sperm is the only remaining northern white rhino sperm, so researchers hope his sperm will help them produce more offspring. Hopefully, the offspring of this northern white rhino will be genetically similar to southern white rhinos, so the subspecies can continue to flourish. However, this is not a sure thing. Many challenges come with preserving a species.
Suni was 45 years old when he died. He had failed to mate with any female in southern Africa. After he died, his health took a downturn. Only two northern white rhinos remain, and they are endangered species.
In 2014, scientists reported that the quality of Sudan the last male northern white rhino’s eggs were poor. And he began to show age-related decline in his later years. Two infections marked his last months in his back leg. He died in March 2018, so the chances of seeing another white rhino in the wild are slim to none. However, his death does have extreme symbolism.
The two female rhinos left behind by Sudan’s death are Najin and Fatu. Neither of them is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term. These two rhinos are the only survivors of the northern white rhino subspecies. This is a tragic development, as the subspecies’ survival depends on the reproduction of both males and females. Fortunately, scientists have preserved sperm and eggs from four other male northern white rhinos and hope to implant the genetic material into female rhinos to help revive the species.
Sudan’s gene pool
The death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the world, is a sad day for the species. It marks the tragic end to a conservation crisis that has raged for decades. Poachers had targeted the rhinos for their horns, used in traditional Chinese medicine and as ornamental dagger handles in Yemen. However, Sudan’s plight was not in vain. In 1976, conservationists moved him to a zoo in Czechoslovakia. The rhino lived there until 2009.
But Sudan is too old to reproduce naturally. His sperm quality is poor, and he doesn’t produce enough eggs. So keepers decided to retire him from his role as a mating male. Sudan’s other two siblings, Fatu and Najin, are infertile and have health problems that make them unsuitable for mating. Sudan’s genetic material will be used in future attempts to preserve the northern white rhino subspecies.