Why the last male northern white rhino is dead

Tony Karumba—AFP

Conservationists worldwide are today saddened by the death of Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino, after he was put to sleep on March 19 aged 45.

The last white rhino's life began in Sudan, where he was born in 1973. He had extensive skin wounds apart from suffering muscle and bone deterioration, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where Sudan was staying, said in a statement.

Sudan "significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females", the conservancy said. He was then transferred to a Czech zoo before eventually being sent to Kenya in 2009 to mate with the remaining three fertile female white rhinos who were alive at the time, all under special 24/7 armed guard. A 2016 study published in Swara magazine found that wholesale rhino horn prices had decreased in both China and Vietnam $65,000 per kilogram in 2012-13 to $30,000 to $35,000 per kilogram in 2015.

Creating embryos has been tried only on southern white rhinos and it isn't guaranteed the procedure will work on northern white rhinos, Stejskal added.

The population is now down to two, with the species at risk of extinction.

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With the death of Sudan, many worry that the white rhino subspecies will die out.

Before euthanizing the 45-year-old Sudan, park staff collected genetic material from the animal with the hope that advanced cellular technologies and in vitro fertilization could prevent the extinction of the species. You can also directly support Ol Pejeta Conservancy as they fight to protect the last surviving Northern White Rhinos by donating to the organization on their website.

"No seriously, I'm the last male white rhino on Planet Earth". "However, despite the fact that they were seen mating, there were no successful pregnancies", the conservancy said. As his condition worsened he became unable to stand and the veterinary team made the sad decision to euthanize him. The only other male of his species, Suni, had died in 2014. Rhino horn has been highly prized in Chinese traditional medicine and as a decorative component of daggers carried by many Yemeni men. "But we should not give up", said Jan Stejskal, director of global projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The Northern White Rhino populations in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Chad were largely wiped out during the poaching crisis of the 1970s and 1980s and sadly, the population was never able to recover.

BuzzFeed News spoke to Sudan's personal ranger, James Mwenda, last December, when it was long apparent that the rhino was not going to father any more offspring. The London-based charity Save the Rhino says that in just a decade, more than 7,000 rhinos have been killed for their horns in Africa.

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