The world mourns the passing away of what would be described the most popular rhino; perhaps of all time. Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino, took his last breath on Tuesday; ending what was said, a drawn-out battle with an aging body riddled with pain.
Sudan’s last moments were in the company of a top team of veterinaries. They included Richard Vigne, the CEO of the vet team at Ol Pejeta, Czech Republic Dvur Kralove Zoo and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Upon seeing the deteriorating condition Sudan was in, they decided to put him to rest. The team says they tried their best to re-invigorate his immune system, but there were no signs of improvement.
“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 that he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” said Richard Vigne, the CEO of the team of vets at Ol Pejeta in a press statement issued on Tuesday.
“We on Ol Pejeta are all 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,”
Sudan was the only remaining northern white rhino; there is almost no footprint of his species in Kenya and Africa at large following a massive poaching campaign for their horns. Interestingly, the horns are nothing more than the same keratin substance found in human fingernails.
The most prominent market for rhinos’ horns is China where they are believed to possess some magical medicinal value.
Sudan came close to joining his ancestors in the after-life back in the 70s when he was also targeted by poachers but survived the attack. He was then airlifted to the Dvur Kralove Zoo to protect him from poachers roaming his wild jungle habitat in Kenya.
While at the zoo, he sired two females, his daughter Najin and their granddaughter Fatu who are both living at Ol Pejeta.
Sudan was the subject of a bold bio-medical undertaking where a team of scientist went ahead to extract sperm from him for use in in vitro fertilization (IVF). His seed would be used to fertilize ova of the last two remaining female northern white rhinos (Najin and Fatu), which will then be implanted to the southern white rhinos as surrogate mothers.
“The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females,” read a statement from the conservancy group.
Sudan was the subject of cutting edge technology used to populate an almost extinct species. The burden of populating his species lied squarely on his shoulders, or should we say his balls? That burden now squarely lies with the team of scientists who harvested his seeds.