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    Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino, is fed by a warden at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia national park, Kenya May 3, 2017

    World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies

    © REUTERS / Baz Ratner/File Photo
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    Hopes for saving Africa’s most critically endangered species now rest on cutting-edge IVF technology after having been hunted to the brink of extinction.

    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.

    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.

    While the closely related Southern White Rhino survives with a population of roughly 20,000, its northern cousin has been extinct in the wild for many years as conservationists have struggled to keep a breeding population alive.

    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.

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    Tags:
    white rhino, Wildlife, extinction, conservation program, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, Kenya
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