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Sudan, last Northern male white rhino on earth passes on peacefully

By Janet Murikira, Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellow, Baraka FM.

Published 20 March 2018 

The last remaining male Northern white rhino on earth has passed on.

The rhino named Sudan from the country where it was rescued  from passed away on Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county.

According to a press release from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Sudan who passed on aged 45 was being treated for age related complications that adversely affected his skin and bones making it difficult for him to stand up hence a decision  was made to put him to rest peacefully.

“His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanise him,” Ol Pejeta said in a statement.

Sudan who was originally born in the Shambe National Park in present day South Sudan was rescued to the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech republic in 1975 while he was still a baby to escape civil war between Sudan and South Sudan.

Towards the late 2000s the Northern White rhino had been considered by conservationists as one of the most critically endangered sub-species.

Conservationists blame the 1970s and 1980s African poaching crisis fuelled by the demand of rhino horn to make traditional Chinese medicine to the extinction of the sub-species which was common in neighbouring countries of Uganda, Chad and Central African Republic.

A population of about 20-30 Northern white rhinos that were remaining at the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo are believed to have succumbed to fighting in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2008 Sudan and three Northern white rhinos his daughter Najin, her daughter Fatu and another male  Suni were moved from the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech republic to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and put under 24-hour surveillance in a bid to provide a fertile breeding climate for the species .

However none of their mating activities ever resulted in a successful pregnancy.

In 2014 Suni the second last remaining male Northern white rhino passed on aged 34 years at the conservancy prompting scientists to introduce a male Southern white Rhino to the two female Northern white Rhinos in a bid to save the sub-species but that again proved unsuccessful.

The conservancy says more than Sh 900 million is needed for an IVF process to save the critically endangered sub-species.

The process would see eggs safely removed from the late Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu which will be fertilized  from semen that had been collected from the Northern white males.

“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. 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,” said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvůr Králové Zoo.

Former Environment  and natural resources CS professor Judy Wakhungu is among Kenyan leaders who have mourned the late Sudan.

  • Read the original story here. This story is reproduced here as part of the Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowships, a Space for Giants programme to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in the four countries where we work.