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

Local artist Danika Naccarella commissioned to design artwork for Northern Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf symbolizes family, loyalty and the protection of those travelling their waters.

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Conservation officers relocate two grizzlies away from Bella Coola

Officers worried the bears would become reliant on human food sources

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

Emily Blackmore was found guilty of taking her underage daughter to U.S. to marry church leader

B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

All 120 operations will need agreements by 2022, province says

Most Read