The planet’s last male white rhino has died

The last male white rhino has died in Kenya of old age. “Sudan,” aged 45, sadly passed away on the 19th of March this year. There are now only two white rhinos left in the world and they are female.

The Ol Peteja Conservancy in Central Kenya announced that Sudan was being attended to for age-related complications that led to degenerate changes in his muscles and bones, including extreme wounds. After Sudan was standing up and struggled greatly for 24 hours, the veterinarian team of the Ol Peteja Conservancy made the decision to euthanize him, which was a great blow to the whole world, but put him out of his pain. I think the decision they made was a difficult one, but at least Sudan is no longer in pain.

Sudan was kept in the conservancy to be protected from poachers, which have always been a threat to species such as the white rhino.  Their valuable horns are traditionally used for Chinese medicine, but more commonly nowadays they are a symbol of status and wealth.

There are so few white rhinos left in the world because of poachers targeting them. In the 1970’s there was a poaching crisis in Uganda, Sudan, and Chad, and a massive number of the Northern White Rhino population was wiped out  largely because of the demand for white rhino horns in traditional Chinese medicine and for dagger handles in Yemen. There used to be 20-30 white rhinos in the wild, but these were wiped out by the late nineties. This is quite saddening as they are such beautiful creatures.

Sudan’s death all-but-guarantees the devastating extinction of this white rhino subspecies. Scientists gathered some of his genetic material and are developing IVF techniques to preserve his species, and hopefully will be able to bring it back in the future. There were white female rhinos that were mated before Sudan passed away, but they were not successful (due to being too old to be fertile). As early as 2008, white rhinos were considered essentially extinct. I hope that the developments in IVF will be successful so that we might see the return of his species in the future.

Sudan’s death is living proof that animal species are disappearing, and that the world needs to make a change if we want to see these beautiful creatures again. “Sudan was the last male 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.”- Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo.

The habitats of these beautiful creatures have always been invaded by humans, but it is important to never give up hope, as new advances in medical/cellular technologies are being developed every day for species like Sudan. In the future, we could indeed see the male white rhinos reappear on our planet earth.

Thanks to the research conducted into IVF (in vitro fertilization), it is possible that we will see Sudan’s subspecies back sometime in the future. The estimated cost for development of the IVF to trials is around $9 million, according to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, but they  will be held at some point in the future.

I have a passion for the environment and its beautiful wildlife, and I am interested in pursuing environmental protection after I finish college. I hope that Sudan’s subspecies can be brought back.


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