The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya announced March 20 the death of the world's last surviving Northern White Rhino "Sudan" at the age of 45, leaving two females, his daughter and granddaughter, the last surviving members of the species.
The announcement has led to an outpouring of feeling on social media as one of Africa's most iconic beasts faces near-certain extinction.
It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). #SudanForever #TheLoneBachelorGone #Only2Left pic.twitter.com/1ncvmjZTy1— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 20, 2018
What hope there is for the Northern White is due to the tremendous work of @OlPajeta and others, but we simply shouldn’t be in this position. Sudan’s death should be taken as a warning bell. Time is running out for too many species. #SudanForever— Paul Heffernan (@61moonraker) March 20, 2018
So sad to hear this news— Eco Nature Holidays 🦌🦉🏴🦇🏔 (@econaturehols) March 20, 2018
And shows what man is capable of — destroying a species — heartbreaking— Debby Thorne (@wildfreckle) March 20, 2018
The sub-species of the White Rhino is native to central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where persistent war has made protection of the Rhino population extremely difficult. Rhinos are typically poached for the ivory of their horns which features heavily in East Asian traditional medicine and expensive ornaments around the world. The exorbitant value of Rhino ivory has also made it a magnet international terrorist and drug-trafficking networks.
A population of only around 500 Rhinos survived by the 1980s, plummeting further to only 32 by the turn of the Millenium.
While Sudan's daughter and granddaughter are unable to carry a calf to full term, hopes exist that frozen eggs fertilized by samples taken from male Rhinos could be carried by Southern female White Rhinos, providing a glimmer of hope that the sub-species could one day be revived.