World's last male northern white rhino dies aged 45

20/03/2018 - 18:48 Published in News/Entertainments & arts

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died of old age-related complications in central Kenya, wildlife officials announced Tuesday.

"It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvur Kralove Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, has died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya," said a conservancy statement. 

Richard Vigne, head of the conservancy, told Anadolu Agency that veterinarians had been treating the rhino for age-related problems before he developed complications that put him in great pain and caused skin and muscle wounds. 

"The Kenya Wildlife Service, Ol Pejeta, Dvur Kralove Zoo, and the veterinary team made a decision to euthanize him," Vigne said. 

The conservancy continues to take care of two female northern white rhinos -- named Najin and Fatu – who also suffer from various health problems and are also infertile.  

Vigne said he was saddened by the knowledge that Sudan's death means certain extinction of the northern white rhino species. 

“They used to be widespread across Northern Africa and have been reduced by poaching due to demand for its horns,” he said. 

According to experts, Sudan was 45 "in rhino years," making him a centenarian in human years. 

Sudan's sperm has been stored in hopes that one day science might be able to bring back the majestic giant to life.

 

- 'Wake-up call'

 

Paula Kahumbu, a top Kenyan conservationist, told Anadolu Agency that it is certain that the northern white rhinos will go extinct after the remaining two elderly female rhinos die.

Recounting a 2016 meeting with Sudan, calling him a “very sad” rhino, Kahumbu added: “I feel very sad that this animal I met and hugged and touched has now died. I think that Najin and Fatu only have each other left. They are both infertile and will die not very long from now." 

She says that in order to protect other species from extinction, "We have to do very much more and draw attention to all other rhinos which are alive and can be saved. Our cheetahs and lions and all these species are in a dire state now, so many African species are now sliding toward extinction." 

She added: "The black rhino is in so much trouble, there are only 800 black rhinos left in Kenya. The death of the northern whites is really what is going to happen to the black rhinos if we’re not careful. This is a wake-up call for Africa that our governments need to take a stronger stand on these issues.”

She said Kenyans are crying for their loss, and the world too, as future generations will only see the northern white rhino in pictures. 

“We must not leave the situation to the point where there is just a handful of individual animals left behind for us to try to raise money to protect them. These animals have been killed for their horns to serve markets in Asia of misinformed people who think that they can be cured of certain disorders."

The late rhino was originally from Sudan -- hence its name -- before South Sudan gained independence, and was rescued from South Sudan’s civil war, which has also claimed the lives of thousands of endangered species, as the illicit wildlife trade flourishes in the fog of human war.