LAIKIPIA (Kenya): The year 2018 witnessed the beginning of extinction of an endangered animal. The last northern male white rhino fondly referred to as Sudan, passed away in Kenya.
.The animal breathed his last at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
The last male white rhino was fondly referred to as Sudan.
In 2009, Sudan and four northern white rhinos were moved to Ol Pejeta. It was hoped that the grasslands of Ol Pejeta would support the breeding of northern white rhinos.
However, the male rhino passed away at age 45, without leaving a male offspring.
Wildlife experts and animal lovers were shocked by the death of the animal as it might be the beginning of the end for this rhino sub-species.
Many shared heartbreaking pictures of Sudan with his caretaker. As well as an image of his final resting place. Sudan is survived only by his daughter and granddaughter. They are both old in age and past their prime reproductive years.
Conservationists have been trying without much success to shore up the numbers of the northern white rhino. The northern white Rhinos once inhabited vast parts of Africa, from Chad to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1960, there were over 2,000 northern white rhinos but that number shrunk to just 15 by 1984.
Experts said poaching, as well as loss of natural habitat, led to the such a drastic decline.
Now, any hope for the future of this rhino sub-species lies in In-Vitrio-Fertilization techniques. Scientists were able to collect some semen from northern white rhinos, and this, it is hoped will help fertilize eggs from female southern white rhinos. Southern white rhinos are another sub-species, with a population of about 20,000. Experts in San Diego’s Institute for Conservation are taking part in this last-ditch effort to preserve the northern white rhino. With I-V-F technologies, scientists hope a northern white rhino could be born in the next 10 to 15 years.
“In these cells we have sperms, testicular tissues and cell lines from 12 northern white rhinos. So, we have enough genetic diversity. All those cell lines have been sequenced and we know we have enough genetic diversity in those 12 cell lines to reproduce a population of northern white rhinos,” said Babara Durant from San Diego Institute for Conservation Research.
Even with a limited sample of semen, scientists are optimistic about saving the northern white rhino from extinction. Maybe one day a junior Sudan will roam the African savannah once again.