The Last Male Northern White Rhinoceros Dies

It was a specimen baptized Sudan, the last male of this subspecies. The only hope to save this species are seminal samples to fertilize females from the south, as the remaining ones from the north are too old to carry the pregnancy.
The Last Male Northern White Rhinoceros Dies
Eugenio Fernández Suárez

Written and verified by the vet Eugenio Fernández Suárez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Recently, news broke out that the last northern white rhinoceros that could sustain the species died. Sudan, a fertile male that lived surrounded by armed rangers, has died after great suffering.

The story of the last northern white rhinoceros

The history of Sudan is tragic. This animal, born in 1973, was captured by poachers employed by the Chipperfield family involved in the animal circus industry. Later, it went around several European zoos until about a decade ago, when it was transferred to a conservation project in Africa.

The intention was to breed Sudan with and the last females of the species. This famous rhinoceros was the father of Nabire and Najin, the latter accompanying him to Africa. Sadly, Nabire’s death shocked ecologists three years ago. This African conservationist complex also protected his granddaughter Fatu.

Sudan and the last of its species have been protected 24/7 by military patrols, walls, watchtowers, working dogs and even drones.

Unfortunately, Sudan was the last fertile male of the species. After its death on March 19, 2018, it could be the final end for this subspecies of white rhinoceros. Those closest to Sudan knew about the delicate state of this animal’s health. They had no alternative but to sacrifice it, in fact, in order to avoid this giant’s further suffering.

This is Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros.

The last white rhinoceros?

It should be noted that Sudan isn’t actually the last white rhinoceros, as there are more than 20,000 specimens left. It’s actually the last male white rhinoceros in the north. This subspecies has suffered much more from poaching than its southern relative.

Even if it isn’t the end of the species, there are studies trying to demonstrate that the northern white rhino is actually a species of its own, which would increase the risk of losing this endangered animal forever.

Regardless, there’s a plan B for this unique animal: there are still seminal samples that could fertilize the last two females. However, the gestation would have to be carried to term by a female southern white rhino, as the last two females are too old to carry a pregnancy.

How did it come to this?

The various species of rhinoceros that inhabit the globe are all in danger of extinction. This is mainly due to the traffic of rhino horn used in traditional Chinese medicine.

There is a plan B in order to save the northern white rhinoceros.

Keratin is the active substance in rhino horn, as well as various other structures in living beings such as nails or hair. Therefore, the horn lacks any healing properties, as it’s equivalent to our own hair.

That’s why this nonsense is so hurtful. People pay real fortunes for the rhino horn, and, consequently, poachers hunted more than half a thousand specimens between the 1970s and 1980s. This illegal activity left only fifteen specimens alive worldwide.

The rhino populations recovered slightly during the transition to the new millennium. However, the truth is that poaching reduced the number of rhinos to less than ten. This triggered alarms and so the captive conservation project started. This project only involved the last male rhino accompanied by only two females.

With the death of Sudan, the last male rhinoceros of its species, we once again receive a sad lesson about the destructive capacity of human beings. Here’s another species close to joining the list of extinct animals because of human activity.

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