Hello from the Green Ranger Safaris team😢😢. Today is truly one of the saddest days for the animal lovers and conservationists. Few animals that have managed to garner as much media attention through the years like the Northern White Rhinoceros. Specifically Sudan, the last male of his subspecies. Throughout the years, he has stolen the hearts of numerous people, including his caretakers, with his dignity and strength. He was euthanized (put to death humanely) yesterday, on 19th March 2018 at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is located in Laikipia, Kenya. This was due to age-related complications due to his advanced age of 45 years of age.
Extinction of a sub-species
There are 5 characteristic rhinos known to man, including the Sumatran, Indian Javan, Black and White rhinoceros. Among the white rhinos, there are two subspecies. The Southern whites and the Northern whites. With the Southern whites population hovering above 20,000 which makes them the most abundant of all the rhinos on earth. There seems to be no apparent reason as to why they are known as “White” rhinos, seeing as they are not distinguishable from their Black rhino siblings in terms of color. The surprising thing about this is that once, the Southern whites were also extinct, about 100 years ago, there were about 50 of them but their numbers increased due to 20 of them being taken into captivity and used to rejuvenate the sub-species.
White rhinos are massive creatures, ranging in terms of weight and size, females tend to weight about 1,600 kilograms (4,000 pounds) while males tend to weight about 2,400 kilograms (5,000 pounds). They measure between 3.5 and 4.6 meters in length (11 – 15 feet) while growing up to a height of between 1.8 and 2 meters (5.11 – 6.6 feet). Their snouts contain large horns with the front horn being larger than the other counterpart. This horn averages 35 inches while there have been some reports of some growing to 59 inches. They have a distinctive, flat and broad mouth and this distinguishes them from the Black rhino that has a beak like upper lip.
At the moment, there are only two Northern White Rhinoceroses left in the world, both being descendants of Sudan. One is Najin, who was born in captivity in the year 1989 and is the daughter of Nasima and Sudan. Second is Fatu, also born in captivity in the year 2000 and is the daughter of Najin (female) and Saut (male). Both are kept at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. They were all brought together in a final try at encouraging mating. This is very sad seeing as at the start of the 20th Century, there were about 3,000 of these animals.
Early Life of Sudan
Sudan was born in South Sudan in 1973. He was later caught by conservationists in November of the same year in Shambe and transported to the Czech Republic, to a place known as the Dvůr Králové Zoo for their Northern White Rhino display. While there he was able to sire two female White rhinos, Nabire in 1983 and Najin in 1989.
Later on, when their numbers had dwindled significantly, there was a decision to finally move Sudan to Ol Pejeta Conservancy. As a last resort to start a breeding program in 2009. It was decided to see as since the climate and environment in Kenya suited the rhinos better and they wanted to increase the chances of the breeding program working. This however failed, since all attempts to encourage natural breeding failed. Even the use of artificial insemination failed but experts were persistent in their hopes and work.
Later Life of Sudan
Sudan was transported to the Conservancy with two other females, his daughter Najin and Suni, who later on died in 2014. While at the conservancy, the rhinos enjoyed around the clock security from a group of highly trained professionals. This was to prevent poaching, which is one of the leading threats to animals, accounting for countless deaths. Through the use of horn-embedded transmitters together with guard dogs and fences, these guards were able to keep the animals safe.
Sudan suffered an infection in his right-hand leg at the end of 2017. He was treated for this and his condition continued to improve in the subsequent months. Unfortunately, the infection began to affect him yet again in March 2018 and despite intensive care, his situation continued to worsen. Due to the age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in his bones and muscles, he was unable to stand and he appeared to suffer a lot. The decision to finally ‘put him to eternal slumber’ was made by the veterinary teams of Ol Pejeta, Dvůr Králové Zoo, and Kenya Wildlife Service. This humane method was decided so as to prevent suffering and also since he had been infertile for many years.
| Source: National Geographic
Sudan’s Contribution to his sub-species fight
Through the years he has sired two females. One of them has her own daughter. This has greatly improved their chances of survival and offers the scientists a bigger pool for the development of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) techniques, using the eggs of the remaining females and Sudan’s genetic material. Southern White rhinos act as surrogates.
Support for Conservation
In 2015, Ol Pejeta launched a GoFundMe campaign that was for raising funds for the rangers guarding the rhinos. Raising about £46,234 of the £9 million but through this, they have created awareness on the matter. For example, some Dubai based entrepreneurs started a global campaign. All in order to encourage people to visit Ol Pejeta. Of which generates funds to cater for the expensive IVF treatments.
In 2017, the Conservancy teamed up with Tinder so as to launch a fundraising campaign. They even created an account for Sudan. And users of the Tinder platform could even swipe right to make donations towards the development of the breeding methods.
| Source: National Geographic
Through the years, there have been numerous accounts of various species on the edge of extinction due to poaching. I cannot stress enough how backward and harmful this is to our Eco-system. But hopefully, this post should increase our awareness and help us to grow and appreciate nature as it is. My only hope is that we can show the same sort of commitment as with the Southern White rhinos. Who bounced back from 50 to over 20,000.
Goodbye everybody and stay safe. Until next time😊