The Last Male Northern White Rhino

What happens once a species is on the brink of extinction? Is it too late?

M. Ende '19

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On March 19, 2018, 45-year-old Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, died.

After a long period of suffering, particularly attributed to his old age, Sudan was euthanized at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Although there are still an estimated 20,000 white rhinos altogether, Sudan left behind only two female northern white rhinos, reducing the possibility of preventing the subspecies’ extinction.

Essentially, the only method to recover the species’ chance of survival is through complicated—and expensive—in-vitro fertilization.

“The key lesson is not to allow other species or subspecies to reach the same parlous state,” Cathy Dean, CEO of Save the Rhino, says. “By the time you’re down to a handful of individuals, who have become famous worldwide for being quite so rare, it’s really far too late.”

As Dean explains, even though Sudan maintained a media presence for a couple of weeks, now, a month later, he has essentially vanished.

His death, and its tragic consequences, must be observed wisely in order to increase awareness and prevent further extinction. Sudan cannot just fade into oblivion.

Since 2008 a systematic poaching crisis has surged and threatened all five rhinoceros species throughout Africa and Asia.

The South African Department of Environmental Affairs’ Minister Edna Molewa announced in January that 1,028 rhinoceroses were poached in 2017, down 26 rhinos from the prior year. This indicates several rhino deaths per day.

In response, groups like Save the Rhino seek donations in order to establish secure habitats and institute reliable monitoring services.

But, as always, education is the key. Particularly in Asia, an education that discredits poaching and applies value to rhinoceros’ lives could significantly impact this conservation mission.

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About the Writer
M. Ende '19, Editor

A senior, Maura Ende's passion is to learn a little about everything. In her free time she watches Parks and Recreation obsessively and occasionally fosters...

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The Last Male Northern White Rhino