The northern white rhinoceros, one of two subspecies of white rhinoceroses, is now doomed to become extinct due to the death of the last living male. The last surviving male northern white rhino, named Sudan, was put to sleep on Monday after suffering from severe complications associated with his old age. As reported by CNN, representatives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya announced Sudan’s death. The 45-year-old rhino was previously kept in captivity at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was later transferred to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, just north of Nairobi. The last male northern white rhino lived with the last two females of his species, namely his 28-year-old daughter, Najin, and his 17-year-old granddaughter, Fatu.
According to a report from the BBC, Sudan was already suffering from severe age-related complications, which included multiple infections and severe skin wounds. In the past two months, Sudan was unable to stand up and was just lying in his pen mainly due to a deep wound on one of his legs. Caretakers finally decided to euthanize the rhino after his condition got worse. Prior to putting him to sleep, doctors were able to collect some of the male rhino’s genetic material in hopes of one day impregnating one of the two females via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
All previous efforts to naturally impregnate the females have failed. Sudan had suffered from low sperm count, which made natural procreation very difficult. To make matters worse, Najin, the only female rhino ready to conceive, was too weak to support a mounted male. Conservationists previously attempted to raise $9 million to fund a fertility treatment for Sudan. To raise awareness and to acquire funding, the last male white rhino was listed on the Tinder app as the “most eligible bachelor in the world.”
All five of the remaining rhino species are considered to be endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List identifies Black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered. With the death of Sudan, the southern white rhino will likely be the only subspecies left with only around 20,000 animals in the wild. Poaching is still the biggest threat to the rhino species, with the majority of the rhino horn trade happening in China and Vietnam.