In this photo taken Friday, July 28, 2017, wildlife ranger Zachariah Mutai poses for a photo with Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications,” researchers announced Tuesday, March 20, 2018 saying he “stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.” (AP Photo/Joe Mwihia)

World’s last male northern white rhino dies

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications”.

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications,” researchers announced Tuesday, saying he “stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.”

A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized on Monday after his condition “worsened significantly” and he was no longer able to stand. His muscles and bones had degenerated and his skin had extensive wounds, with a deep infection on his back right leg.

Euthanasia was “the best option, given the quality of his life had deteriorated to a point where it was unfair to him,” chief conservation officer Samuel Mutisya told The Associated Press.

The rhino had been part of an ambitious effort to save the subspecies from extinction after decades of decimation by poachers, with the help of the two surviving females. One is his 27-year-old daughter, Najin, and the other is her 17-year-old daughter, Fatu.

His death won’t have an impact on the efforts to save the subspecies, as the focus turns to in vitro fertilization techniques using stored semen from other dead rhinos and eggs extracted from the two remaining females.

“He 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,” said the conservancy’s CEO, Richard Vigne.

Sudan was something of a celebrity, attracting thousands of visitors. Last year he was listed as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on the Tinder dating app in a fundraising effort.

The last male northern white rhino had been born in Sudan, the last of his kind to be born in the wild.

He was taken to a Czech zoo and then transferred to Kenya in 2009 with the three other remaining fertile northern white rhinos at the time. They were placed under 24-hour armed guard and fed a special diet. “However, despite the fact that they were seen mating, there were no successful pregnancies,” the conservancy said.

Rangers caring for Sudan described him as gentle and, as his condition worsened in recent weeks, expressed sadness over his imminent death.

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.”

The only hope for preserving the subspecies “now lies in developing in vitro fertilization techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females,” the statement said.

Semen from dead northern white rhinos is stored in various locations around the world, and it is critical to keep the two females alive until the in vitro fertilization techniques are perfected, Vigne with the conservancy told the AP earlier this month.

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 Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. “It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring.”

Supporters think the global efforts to save the subspecies via stem cell and other technologies could be used to help other endangered species. Some groups such as the London-based Save the Rhino have said in vitro fertilization is probably too late to save the northern white rhino, whose natural habitat has faced severe limitations, and that efforts should focus on other critically endangered species with a better chance at survival.

Related: Swipe right to save the world’s last white rhino

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.

Other rhinos, the southern white rhino and another species, the black rhino, are under heavy pressure from poachers who kill them for their horns to supply illegal markets in parts of Asia.

Roughly 20,000 southern white rhinos remain in Africa. Their numbers dipped below 100 around a century ago, but an intense effort initiated by South African conservationist Ian Player in the mid-20th century turned things around.

Related: Regulations to protect killer whales working

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Torchia and videographer Josphat Kasire in Nairobi, Kenya contributed.

___

Tom Odula, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

City takes action to help residents during postal strike

Steps to avoid late payment penalties

Red Deer Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program Receives Prestigious Literacy Award

Award celebrates outstanding achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy

Carmanah heading to the City on the heels of their latest single Nightmare

Victoria band performs at Bo’s on Nov. 22nd along with Hey Ocean

Message of hope highlights The Mustard Seed’s first annual fundraising gala

Evening featured fine food, a live painting, and special speakers

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Trump vilifies caravan, says he’ll cut Central American aid

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the Guatemala-Mexico border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border Sunday in southern Mexico.

Federal carbon tax rebates will exceed the cost for most people affected

Officials say 70 per cent of people in those provinces will get back more than they end up paying out as fuel costs rise to incorporate the carbon tax.

Rotating strike in Toronto will have ‘significant impact,’ says Canada Post

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities.

Cancelling Saudi Arabia arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read