In a sad progression of animal extinction rates, the world’s last male northern white rhino has died. Sudan, the last male of the species, spent nearly ten years living in an enclosure in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. He was protected by armed guards 24 hours a day against poachers, but at 45 years old, he was elderly in rhino years and died due to age-related issues.
With Sudan dead, there is now a race against time to try and save what is left of the white Northern rhino species. The fate of the species now lies with his daughter and granddaughter, with no known northern white rhinos left in the wild. A representative from the conservancy has said that they have been able to save some of Sudan’s genetic material, in the hopes of artificially inseminating the female of the species.
Experts are exploring other options too, including mating the remaining female white northern rhinos with white Southern rhinos, who are not endangered. According to a report by CNN, despite the two species being genetically different and not bearing 100% white northern rhino offspring, it’s better than saving nothing.
Northern white rhinos were often hunted by poachers, sought out because of the belief in the healing properties of their horns. Conservation efforts have been raised in recent years but unfortunately, it has proven too late for Sudan.