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

Supportive housing in Nanaimo isn’t a victory for homeless people, say advocates

Alliance Against Displacement criticizes how shutdown of Discontent City was handled

Mental health issue suspected after spike belts end car chase in Lantzville

Woman in her 30s from the Nanaimo area detained after Tuesday afternoon incident

Nanaimo city council will reconsider waterfront walkway plan

Project included in financial plan but councillors want to examine scope and timelines

Former Nanaimo hospice executive director faces theft charges in the Okanagan

Susan Steen accused of stealing $109,000 from Central Okanagan Hospice Assocation

Boy with terminal disease gets his wish – a trip to Disneyland – but family still looking for support

Kaleb Francis, 4, was diagnosed last month with X-linked myotubular myopathy

Dover Bay Secondary School staging a production of the musical ‘Oliver!’

Attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

Customers at new Quality Foods finding spare change for Coins for Kids

Charity getting a boost from new bigger, busier Harewood location

Chamber wants to know about Nanaimo’s best Christmas light displays

Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, News Bulletin partner on Spirit of Christmas Light Up

Crime in Nanaimo leads to ‘explosion’ of interest in Block Watch

Nanaimo and Lantzville area now has more than 100 chapters

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Nanaimo’s Discontent City being bulldozed

City crews on scene cleaning up, no access to the site allowed

Most Read