The last remaining northern white rhinoceros in the world, called Sudan, was euthanized yesterday after the significant worsening of the disease he had been suffering from for several weeks, according to the Kenyan nature reserve of Ol Pejeta, where he had lived since 2009.
“His illness worsened significantly in the last 24 hours, he was unable to stand up and was having a very bad time,” said in a statement the Ol Pejeta reserve, which together with the veterinary team of the Czech zoo Dvur Králové and the Kenyan Wildlife Service decided to euthanize Sudan.
Sudan successfully had recovered at the end of last year from an infection in its right leg derived from its advanced age, but at the end of February it was discovered that it had relapsed and that, this time, the condition was “much deeper”.
Since then veterinarians have looked for ways to cure him and even to perpetuate the species, but the complications of his leg, combined with the advanced age of the rhinoceros (45 years) have made very difficult — if not impossible — to survive.
“Sudan will be remembered for its memorable and unusual life,” said the reserve in the statement, which explained that in the 70s he managed to survive the extinction of his species and was transferred to the zoo Dvur Králové, in the Czech Republic.
At the end of his life he managed to return to Africa, to the nature reserve located in Laikipia, in the center-west of Kenya.
The reserve reported that yesterday it managed to extract “genetic material” from the creature, which “gives hope to future attempts to reproduce the species of white rhinoceros through advanced genetic techniques.” Apart from Sudan, there are two other living females, both daughters of Sudan, also in Ol Pejeta, but artificial fecundation has never been attempted with rhinoceroses.
Sudan reached great popularity after a campaign launched in the social network Tinder by the people in charge of Ol Pejeta to obtain the 9 million dollars necessary to develop the techniques of assisted fertilization valid for these animals.
“I’m the only one, I’m the last male white rhinoceros on planet Earth, I do not want to be taken advantage of, but the fate of my species depends, literally, on me, I act well under pressure, I measure 1.82 meters and weigh 2.267 kilos, if this matters,” the profile said.
For years, the poaching of these animals has contributed to their imminent extinction, since their horns are paid at prices higher than gold in the Asian market due to their alleged healing and aphrodisiac properties, an unfortunate claim that makes it a coveted product.