Conservationists were expecting the death of Sudan, the world’s last remaining male northern white rhinoceros. But when he died on Monday night, the news was met with international dismay.
The 45-year-old male rhino had been living under armed guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Earlier this month, Sudan developed an infection on his back right leg. He had already been suffering from age-related complications, and the infection worsened his condition.
Now, only two female northern white rhinos remain at the conservancy—the last of their kind on Earth.
Sudan’s death is largely seen as the final signature on the species’ death warrant.
Is All Hope Lost?
There was a major conservation push to help Sudan produce an offspring. In one last ditch effort to raise money for the rhino’s care, conservationists created a Tinder profile for Sudan.
Documenting Sudan and the species decline was a major project for National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale.
“Today, we are witnessing the extinction of a species that had survived for millions of years but could not survive mankind,” Vitale wrote in an Instagram post sharing the news.
Vitale was with Sudan when the rhino was transferred from a zoo in the Czech Republic to the Kenya reserve in 2009. It was thought that the African climate and having more room to roam would stimulate the rhinos to breed.
Because he is past reproductive age and the two females are unable to produce offspring naturally, scientists were…