The World Has Lost Its Last Male Northern White Rhino

The World Has Lost Its Last Male Northern White Rhino

A tragedy of existential proportions has struck the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya—and really, the larger world—as the last male Northern White Rhinoceros has died.

This rhino, named Sudan, was 45 years old, which is quite elderly in rhino years. He had been in poor health for several weeks, but took an abrupt and brutal turn for the worst this week and was euthanized as a result.

“He was a gentle giant, his personality was just amazing and given his size, a lot of people were afraid of him,” Eulogized Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta (via MSN). “But there was nothing mean about him.”

While there are no longer any male Northern White Rhinos left on earth, there are still two living females. The hope is that one or both of these females can be artificially inseminated using genetic material harvested from the late Sudan. Unfortunately, the realization of this goal will be difficult, just as it was difficult in Sudan’s final years, when he lacked the physical strength to mount a female, and the sperm count to make impregnation likely.

This grim situation of the Northern White Rhino is the result of endemic poaching. Rhino horns are a sought after and valuable commodity in parts of Asia, where they are believed to have various healing properties.

Needless to say, conservationists are hoping Sudan’s death—and the possible extinction of his mighty species—will help end the practice of rhino poaching.

“We can only hope that the world learns from the sad loss of Sudan and takes every measure to end all trade in rhino horn. While prices of rhino horn are falling in China and Vietnam, poaching for horn still threatens all rhino species,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights.

Regrettably, the Northern White Rhino is not the first rhino subspecies to endure such a dour fate. Seven years ago, the Northern Black Rhino was declared extinct, following a similar scourge of illegal poaching. All five remaining species of rhinoceros are considered critically endangered. Hopefully, it’s not to late to turn things around for this beautiful species.

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