At 45 years old, Sudan is the last surviving male of the Northern White Rhinos. And recently, he passed away in Kenya as a result of “age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds,” according to a statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Apparently, his condition worsened considerably in his last 24 hours, with him being “unable to stand up” and “suffering a great deal”. As an act of mercy, the veterinary term made the tough call to euthanize him.
Unfortunately, the passing of Sudan seems to assure that the extinction of the majestic Northern White Rhinos is naught but an inevitability.
However, all is not lost. Scientists have been successful in gathering his genetic material (his semen) and are working on in-vitro fertilisation in a desperate attempt to preserve this sub-species of rhino, since there are 5 females of this species still surviving today.
Poaching has been the main cause of the decline in rhinos, with the massive demand for rhino horn as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia and as dagger handles in Yemen. Thus, Sudan has been living under armed guard in the conservatory, well-protected by trained rangers and local law enforcement agency.
While he has certainly been well-protected from the hands of poachers, old age spares none; old age takes all.