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The story of ‘Sudan’, the northern white rhino (1)

By Floro Mercene

The northern white rhino is a subspecies of the white rhino. Years of widespread poaching and habitat loss in their home range in Africa have devastated their populations.

In the 1960s, an estimated 2,300 northern white rhinos still lived in the wild. But in the following decades, pseudoscientific beliefs about the medical properties of the rhino horn created a lethal demand that poachers rushed to fill. By the early 1990s, there were just a few dozen left. In 2008, the creature was believed to be extinct in the wild.

As of November 2015, there were only three northern white rhinos left alive in the entire planet, all live on Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a 90,000-acre (360 km2) not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya, under 24-hour armed guard and a lot of food with nutritious diet supplemented. They were moved here in 2009 to take part in a last-ditch breeding program.

And, Sudan was the only living male of the species. His horn had already been removed to deter poachers. Sudan had little chance of reproduction due to his age, and neither of the females, Sudan’s daughter, Najin, and his granddaughter Fatu, are highly inbred, and neither of them are capable of reproducing naturally.

Last month, Sudan’s condition worsened significantly, to the point where he was no longer able to stand. His muscles and bones had degenerated and his skin had extensive wounds, including a deep infection on his back right leg.

“Euthanasia was the best option, given the quality of his life had deteriorated to a point where it was unfair to him,” told by chief conservation officer.

His death means that the total northern white rhino population on Earth stands at just two, Najin and Fatu. Due to senseless human greed, northern white rhinos are on the brink of extinction.

(To be continued)