The feared extinction of the northern white rhino has been heightened after the death of the world’s last remaining male northern white rhino named Sudan.
He died on Monday at the age of 45 after months of age-related illness at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where he leaves behind the only two females of his species in the world – his daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu.
“Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” the conservation camp tweeted.
Sudan, who was 90 in human years, was rescued in the 1970s after escaping extinction and was kept at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic where he fathered the two remaining females.
He was moved to Kenya in 2009 with the other male northern white rhino at the time and the two females to encourage breeding. It was unsuccessful.
Ol Pejeta said Sudan’s genetic material was collected before his death and it “provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies.”
Scientists are working on developing in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females or surrogate southern white rhino females and Sudan’s semen to preserve the subspecies.
There are two subspecies of the white rhinoceros including the rare northern white rhinos and the southern white rhino with an estimated 20,000 living in the wild.
Sudan gained worldwide popularity last year when an account was created for him on the dating app Tinder to help fund the development of IVF for rhinos.
Hundreds of fans paid tribute to Sudan.
This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com