Dubbed by Tinder as the most eligible bachelor in the world, Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, died in Kenya, at an old age of 45 years.
Sudan has reportedly been suffering from muscle degeneration and other complications that has resulted in the extinct animal being unable to walk.
Sudan’s health condition was worsening that the veterinarians at Ol Pejeta Conservancy decided to euthanize him to ease his pain and finally put a stop to his agony.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy has been Sudan’s home since 2009, when he was transferred from Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic. The white rhino was brought back to his home country in the hopes that being in his natural habitat would encourage breeding and save his dying species.
Sudan was taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo from the his natural home when he was just 2 years old, and this might have just saved his life. The hunting and poaching became rampant in the location he was saved from years after he was moved to the said zoo.
Ami Vitale, a photographer from National Geographic who has been following Sudan’s life since the white rhino was brought back to Ol Pejeta in 2009, shared some of the most heartbreaking photographs of Sudan’s last hours:
Ami said Sudan’s passing was really hard for all of his keepers. She said. “They’ve fallen in love with him. They say they wake up in the morning and see (the rhinos) often before they see their own children. They say, ‘These are our babies.’ ”
The photographer recalled the day when Sudan first arrived at Kenya. It was raining and Sudan played in the mud. Ami said that just like the day he was reunited with his homeland, it rained again as Sudan took his last breath, as if his life had come full circle.
Sudan’s keepers at Old Pejeta worked full time in protecting and taking care of Sudan and the other rhinos in the conservancy. They have formed a bond with Sudan, having been with him for nine years.
Rhino poaching has greatly reduced the population of northern white rhinos that there are only two of this species left today, and they are both females – Najin, Sudan’s daughter, and Fatu, his granddaughter. Both have been discovered to be incapable of natural reproduction at the moment.
Poaching of these rare, gentle creatures is popular to get the rhinos’ horns. Their horns were being used in traditional Chinese medicine, as dagger hands in Yemen, and as status symbol of wealth. The horns of white rhinos can have a value of $100,000 to $300,000, depending on its weight.
Grief-stricken because of what happened to Sudan, Ami said: “When I first saw these ancient, gentle, hulking creatures, they broke my heart,” she said. “I couldn’t believe they had survived for millions of years but could not survive humanity.”
The heartbreaking moment moved thousands all around the world, and many expressed their mourning and grief on Twitter:
"I hope that [his] legacy will awaken us to protect this magnificent and fragile planet," says Explorer @Amivee, who documented the species' decline. https://t.co/4xhH9xKzqf
— Nat Geo Explorers (@NatGeoExplorers) March 20, 2018
Sudan, a northern white rhino and the last male of his subspecies, has died. Photographer @Amivee chronicled the final moments of his life and says there is still hope for the future of his kind. https://t.co/e5IZOOAgRK via @CNNPhotos pic.twitter.com/zwxgjhBz3M
— CNN (@CNN) March 21, 2018
As of now, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is still trying to raise funds to be able to proceed with the viable breeding herd of northern whites. The estimated cost for the project is $9 million:
Image grabbed from Ol Pejeta Consevancy
Everyone should learn from what has happened to Sudan’s species, from what us, humans, did to these poor animals for our own enjoyment, for our own benefit.
It might be true that rhinos’ horns are worth a fortune, but is it really worth taking an innocent animal’s life for money? No amount of money could ever make up for what happened and bring back Sudan’s life.