The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya aged 45 following “age-related complications”.
Sudan, who is said to have lived an “unusually memorable life” and gained many admirers for his “dignity and strength”, had suffered from degeneration and skin wounds.
Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya, where Sudan lived since 2009, said the animal could no longer stand and was “suffering a great deal”, adding that his condition deteriorated “significantly” in the 24 hours leading up to his death.
The rhino was put down by vets from the Dvur Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service.
Ol Pejeta conservancy collected Sudan’s genetic material in the hope that his species can be reproduced in the future using “advanced cellular technologies”.
A statement by chief executive officer Richard Wigne read: “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.”
The rhino was moved to Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic in the 1970s, managing to escape extinction in the wild.
Just two female northern white rhinos remain – Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, both at Ol Pejeta.
According to the conservancy, the “only hope” for preserving the northern white rhino lies in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), which could see eggs from Najin and Fatu fertilised by stored semen from males.
But the technique comes at a cost and is estimated to add up to some 9 million US dollars to develop methods, trials, and implantation.
A “poaching crisis” in the 1970s and ’80s, along with demand for rhino horn in some traditional practices around the world, “wiped out” northern male white rhinos in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad, Ol Pejeta said.
Ol Pejeta and Dvur Kralove Zoo have set up a donation page which has raised around 4,000 US dollars of a 25,000 US dollars target.