The World’s Last Living Male Northern White Rhino Is In Really Bad Shape

World's last male northern white rhino dies
The world is about to lose another animal to extinction. Sudan, the last living male northern white rhinoceros, is reportedly not in good health, signaling the possible end of his subspecies.  ( Tony Karumba | AFP/Getty Images )

In November 2017, biologist Daniel Schneider tweeted a photo of Sudan, the world's last living male northern white rhinoceros, with the caption:

"Want to know what extinction looks like? This is the last male Northern White Rhino. The Last. Nevermore." It went viral shortly. Because of illegal poaching, this rhino subspecies is down to the last one, in addition to two females. That's right — the total extinction of northern white rhinos is three deaths away from happening, and Sudan isn't particularly in good shape, either.

Sudan's Health Is Declining

As NBC Washington reports, Sudan's health has deteriorated. The 45-year-old rhino continues to struggle despite 24-hour care by veterinarians, according to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

At the end of 2017, Sudan developed an infection on his back right leg, but through the care of his veterinary team, he recovered by January. Then another more serious infection was discovered just recently in the same area, according to Ol Pejeta. His recovery has not been as smooth this time, and with Sudan being the last male of his subspecies, the people caring for him are tremendously concerned about him and, of course, what this means for the future of northern white rhinos.

Biologists and extinction experts hope to save the subspecies by using southern white rhinos , which number around 20,000 — as surrogates to give birth to more animals, but suppose Sudan dies, that might be the end of it.

"Preparations for this historic procedure have started by retrieving and storing eggs from southern white rhino females in European zoos, and fertilising them in in vitro conditions, before actually retrieving eggs from the last two remaining northern white rhino females in Kenya," said Ol Pejeta.

Close To Extinction

In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos, according to the Save the Rhino International. In the decades since, that number had dwindled to merely 100 amid aggressive poaching and unregulated hunting. Now, it's down to three.

Last year, the conservancy partnered with dating app Tinder to raise funds for Sudan's care and prevent the subspecies from going extinct. As part of the campaign, Tinder hailed Sudan as "the most eligible bachelor in the world."

"Everything possible is being done to help him regain his health. We are very concerned about him — he's extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily," said Ol Pejeta in another tweet.

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