The world’s last remaining male northern white rhino has died in Kenya at age 45, the conservationists who looked after him said Tuesday. There are now just two female members of the subspecies left.
The rhino, named Sudan, famously signed up to the dating app Tinder in a bid to save his species from extinction. He had been unwell for some time and passed away on Monday, said the Ol Pejeta Conservancy where he lived in central Kenya.
“Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” the conservancy said.
Ol Pejeta, the Kenya Wildlife Service and veterinarians at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic decided to euthanize him.
Ol Pejeta said Sudan “will be remembered for his unusually memorable life.”
“In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo. Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females,” it said.
“During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the hearts of many with his dignity and strength.”
Sudan lived with the last two female survivors of the subspecies — his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, Ol Pejeta said.
The conservancy said Sudan’s genetic material was collected on Monday.
“The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females,” the conservancy said.
Sudan was listed as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” by Tinder last year in partnership with the conservancy, in a campaign to heighten awareness and raise $9 million to save the species.
African rhinos have been decimated by poachers killing them to meet demand for their horns, primarily in Vietnam and China, where the horn is used in jewelry and traditional medicines.
“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,” said Peter Knights, the chief executive of San Francisco-based conservation organization WildAid.
“While prices of rhino horn are falling in China and Vietnam, poaching for horn still threatens all rhino species,” Knights added.
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