Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, has died. But the effort to save the subspecies from extinction lives on. For nearly a decade, Sudan lived in a 700-acre enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, against the backdrop of the hulking Mount Kenya.
Armed guards protected him 24 hours a day because he belonged to a subspecies on the verge of extinction from poachers. Rhinos are targeted by poachers fueled by the belief in Asia that the horns cure various ailments.
At 45, Sudan was elderly in rhino years. His daughter Najin, 28, and granddaughter, Fatu, 17, are considered spring chickens.
The elderly rhino was fraught with problems normally associated with age. During his final years, he was not able to naturally mount a female and suffered from a low sperm count, which made his ability to procreate difficult.
Najin could conceive, but her hind legs are so weak, she may be unable to support a mounted male.
“There has been recorded mating between different pairs over the last few years, but not conceptions,” George Paul, the deputy veterinarian at the conservancy, said. “Based on a recent health examination conducted, both animals have a regular estrus cycle, but no conception has been recorded.”
And if one is not recorded soon, the beloved animal will go extinct.