Recently, we featured Diego, the Galapagos tortoise who save his entire race from extinction by fathering 800 offsprings. While Diego’s job is a huge success, a subspecies of Northern White Rhino didn’t meet the same fate as he failed to reproduce before he dies.

Sudan, a 45-year-old male northern white rhino, is the last hope for the survival of his kind.

Sadly, Sudan just died at a conservancy in Kenya.

“Sudan’s health took a turn earlier this year, when he got an age-related infection in his leg. He started showing positive responses to treatment, but soon he became unable to stand and he had to be put down.”

Sudan is the only male northern white rhino left in the world, along with two females.

He was named in the country where he was born but was sent to the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic when he was young and lived for most of his life.

Sudan was transferred to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2009 with two young female rhino Fatu and Najin, in hope to somehow encourage the animals to reproduce and save their kind from extinction.

Being the last male of his kind, Sudan had 24/7 protection from armed guards. His horn was also removed to keep him safe from poachers.

Unfortunately, the hope of reproducing with aging Sudan and his potential partner was a failure. With this setback, the Ol Pejeta knew it was a race against time and worked hard to find another solution.

“Preparations have kicked off in Kenya and Europe for the long-anticipated procedure that is hoped to help to save the northern white rhinos from the brink of extinction,” the conservancy wrote on December 5, as Sudan’s health was starting to deteriorate. “With only three aging northern white rhino individuals left, this subspecies faces extinction if new representative offspring are not produced.”

Apparently, for the past two years, experts from Dvůr Králové Zoo, IZW Berlin and Avantea Institute in Cremona, Italy, have been working on a plan to save northern white rhinos from extinction even if Sudan was to die.

They plan to create a northern white rhino embryo through vitro fertilization using the sperm from now-deceased northern white rhino males stored in Berlin, Germany and use a southern white rhino surrogate.

Meanwhile, the eggs from the northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, who are 28 and 17 years old, will be harvested to be fertilized in the lab using the stored sperm.

“The fate of the northern white rhino subspecies depends on this operation going smoothly,” Ol Pejeta wrote.

However, this novel strategy has never been tried before on rhinos, and the lengths to which people are going to save this subspecies is a heartening silver lining to the sad truth of plummeting rhino populations.

Sadly, all rhinoceros subspecies are under threat because of the demand for their horns on black market. Keratin from the horns is so valuable because of the unfounded belief in Asia that it can cure all kinds of ailments, from hangovers to cancer (even though keratin is the same substance as your fingernails).

It is estimated that only about 30,000 among all five species combined were left across Africa and Asia that was once roamed by millions of rhinos.

For donations to help support Ol Pejeta’s last attempt to save the northern white rhino click HERE!

RIP, Sudan.

Via: The Dodo