Sudan, the only male northern white rhino left in the world, is currently in critical condition. This gives the subspecies a high risk of extinction as there are only two other northern white rhinos, which are both female other than Sudan. The rhino recently developed a secondary infection which has not responded well to treatment, leaving experts to think that his health is a concern for the livelihood of the species in the future. He is already of old age, having lived 45 years.
The rhino currently lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, located in Kenya, and is protected by 24-hour guards because of the threat of poaching. A spokesperson for Ol Pejeta made a statement about Sudan’s condition, stating “We don’t think he will last for much longer […] Euthanasia will be explored if we feel he is suffering too much and won’t recover. We do not want him to suffer unnecessarily. Right now he is still feeding and walking around […] albeit very little.” What makes it harder for the scientists is that there is difficulty in conceiving naturally due to Sudan’s old age, which then prevents that to be used as an option to help save the subspecies of rhinos. Since the 70’s, the rhino population has decreased by more than 97% in Africa.
And this isn’t the first time that this particular rhino has made international headlines. Just last year, Sudan was named by Tinder, a well-known dating app, as the “most eligible bachelor in the world” for campaign purposes to raise funds for these rhinos. This whole situation proves to be a race for time and we can only see what will eventually happen to the species as it is currently categorized under the “death watch” by several news outlets, such as Fox5 San Diego.
What is saddening to hear is that all of the 5 remaining rhino species left in the world are in danger of becoming extinct. This shows how conservation efforts are a necessity to preserve these creatures. Rhinos are also targeted by poachers, who use their horns to fuel the belief that it can be used for healing and medicinal purposes (which is a common belief held in Asia). Hopefully scientists can beat the ticking clock and figure out a solution for this fast-paced emerging problem in Africa.
Photo: Rachel Nuwer