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World's Last Male Northern White Rhinoceros Is Dead: Is This The End Of The Species?

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Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros has died but his death did not extinguish hope to save the species from extinction.

Gentle Giant

The "gentle giant" lived in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya before his death on Monday, when he was put down due to the severity of pain from a degenerative illness. He is survived by two females, his daughter and granddaughter, with which conservationists hope to save the species.

Population Decimated By Conflict, Hunting, And Poaching

Northern white rhinos used to roam central Africa and numbered about 2,000 in the 1960s. Conflict, uncontrolled hunting, and poaching for their ivory horns, however, have decimated their number. By 1984, the population of this subspecies dropped to just 15.

"We can only hope that the world learns from the sad loss of Sudan and takes every measure to end all trade in rhino horn. While prices of rhino horn are falling in China and Vietnam, poaching for horn still threatens all rhino species," said Peter Knights, CEO of environmental organization WildAid.

Not The End Of The Species

Conservationists, however, hope that Sudan's death would not be the end of his species. Their hope lies in successfully inseminating Sudan's 27-year-old daughter Najin, or his 17-year old granddaughter Fatu through artificial means. The two still remain at the Ol Pejeta reserve.

Before euthanizing the 45-year-old Sudan, park staff collected genetic material from the animal with the hope that advanced cellular technologies and in vitro fertilization could prevent the extinction of the species.

One plan to save the species was to have eggs from the remaining females inseminated with sperm samples from now-deceased males before these are implanted to a surrogate female southern white rhino, a related subspecies with a population of about 20,000.

Last year, Sudan joined Tinder for a public awareness campaign that aimed to raise the money needed for research that could save his species from extinction.

"The funds raised will go towards ongoing research into Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) by a consortium of institutions. Once perfected, this technology, in particular in vitro fertilization (IVF), will aid to achieve successful pregnancies to gradually build up a viable herd of northern white rhinos," the campaign page reads.

Old And Sick

The veterinary team decided to euthanize Sudan after his condition worsened over the weekend, which left him with bad skin wound. The rhino was no longer able to stand and was obviously suffering.

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