The world’s last male northern white rhino has died after months grappling with illness.

Sudan was put down on Monday, aged 45 — the equivalent of 90 years old in human years.

Now, his whole species is facing the very real threat of extinction.

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Sudan lived and died in Kenya at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy — and leaves behind just two female northern white rhinos: his daughter, Najin, and his granddaughter, Fatu.

Ol Pejeta said that the only hope for preservation of their species lies with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques, fertilising Najin and Fatu’s eggs with stored male northern white rhino semen. Southern white rhino females could be used as surrogate mothers. Sudan’s genetic material was collected in the hope that future cellular technology might allow further reproduction.

“Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds,” Ol Pejeta said in a statement on Twitter. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal.”

“The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanise him,” it continued.

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Rhinos are facing extinction because poachers continue to hunt them for their horns. Ivory is considered lucky in Vietnam and China, and motivated by profits, around 1,000 rhinos have been slaughtered a year in South Africa, which is home to 80% of the world’s rhino population. According to Reuters Africa, poachers can sell a white rhino horn for $50,000 per kilo — “making them more valuable than gold or cocaine.”

But Sudan helped bring the issue to the international stage — through Tinder.

Sudan won the hearts and swipes of the world when his dating profile hit 190 countries in over 40 different languages. Within 24 hours of launching the campaign, the conservancy site crashed, as people from all over the planet rushed to donate and support the species-saving IVF treatment — which costs approximately $9,000,000.

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“We [at] Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity.”

“One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide,” he added.

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, including for life on land, which includes protecting animals from extinction. You can join us by taking action here .


Defend the Planet

The World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Has Just Died

By James Hitchings-Hales