Sad news for East Africa as the world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died after “age-related complications,” at age 45 at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Sudan had been part of an ambitious effort to save the subspecies of Northern White Rhinos from extinction and he leaves behind the last two surviving females of northern white rhinos in the world.
Northern white rhinos once roamed parts of Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic and were particularly vulnerable because of the armed conflicts that have swept the region over decades.
The last male northern white rhino had been born in Sudan, taken to a Czech zoo and then transferred to Kenya in 2009.
Sudan was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity.
The rhino “significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females,” the conservancy said. “Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies.”
Sudan’s death “is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him. But we should not give up,” said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvůr Králové Zoo. “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 the conservancy’s CEO, Richard Vigne.