Sudan, a 45-year-old northern white rhino, was the last hope for the survival of his subspecies. Sadly, he has just died at a conservancy in Kenya. In his last moments, he was surrounded by people who have been taking care of him for a decade.

He was named after the country he was born in. Sudan was sent to the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, where he lived for quite a long time. . In 2009, he was taken to Ol Pejeta Conservancy located in Kenya. Two other white rhinos, Fatu and Najin, lived there. This was the small shred of hope everyone held on to.

Because he was the last male of his kind, Sudan was protected with armed guards for 24 hours daily. His horn was also removed so poachers wouldn’t hurt it.

Sudan was ageing fast, so his potential mates and him couldn’t procreate. The survival of this species was a race against time. Everyone at the conservancy worked hard to come up with another solution.

“Preparations have kicked off in Kenya and Europe for the long-anticipated procedure that is hoped to help to save the northern white rhinos from the brink of extinction,” the conservancy wrote on December 5, as Sudan’s health was starting to deteriorate. “With only three aging northern white rhino individuals left, this subspecies faces extinction if new representative offspring are not produced.”

Experts have been working hard to save northern white rhinos from extinction even if Sudan were to pass away. Their goal was to use a southern white rhino surrogate to carry a northern white rhino embryo through IVF. Sperm from previous white rhinos have been harvested and stored in Berlin, Germany for this procedure. Northern white rhino eggs from Najin and Fatu, who are 28 and 17 years old, will be fertilized in a lab.

This procedure might be the saving grace for these rhinos. It’s quite shocking to see how a species that survived for millions of years couldn’t survive humans. People are doing their best to save these rhinos, but it wouldn’t have come to this stage if our species tried to think and act in a more sustainable way. Mass extinction has been taking place because of our ways. Perhaps the passing of Sudan will make people stop and think about their actions.

Rest in peace, big guy.

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