The last male northern white rhinoceros has died, leaving only two females with which conservationists hope to save the species from extinction.
The "gentle giant" named Sudan, who lived in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, was put down on Monday after pain from a degenerative illness became too great. To try to preserve the species, genetic materials were collected from Sudan before he was euthanized. The staff at the park hopes that, through "advanced cellular technologies", his death will not signal the end of the northern white rhino species.
His death leaves only two females – his daughter and granddaughter – of the subspecies alive in the world. Sudan, who was 45-years-old, survived the species' near-extinction in the 1970s and was taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was moved back to Africa and, according to those who worked in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, "stole the heart of many".
"He was a gentle giant, his personality was just amazing and, given his size, a lot of people were afraid of him. But there was nothing mean about him," said Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta.
The elderly rhino was being treated for degenerative changes in his muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. The hope for continuing the species lies in artificially inseminating either Najin or her daughter, Fatu.