The last chance to avoid extinction
When you’re the last male left in the entire world and the fate of your subspecies depends on you, the responsibility might be overwhelming. Moreover, Sudan is in the light of both the researchers and poachers at the same time. It’s the last male northern white rhino in the world and scientists would like to preserve his species, at the same time it’s a cruel reality poachers are hunting rhinos for their horns, believed to contain substances important in healing various ailments. This is why he’s guarded 24 hours a day by a team of armed rangers. And although Sudan was stripped of his horn for his own safety, he still needs armed bodyguards against whatever else might want to cause him harm.
Now scientists hope the 43-year-old Sudan will be able to mate with Fatu and Najin, the two female rhinos he’s living at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya. They all are physiologically healthy but their age might influence their chances of surviving: Sudan is old at his age while Fatu is too young at 15 and Najin is adult at 25 but her hind legs are weak and scientists believe she might be unable to support a mounted male. To complicate things, Sudan has a low sperm count so even he manages to mate, there might be no conception. And, sadly, if no conception in the years to come, the northern white rhinos will go extinct.
International experts also tried to get a solution for Sudan by studying the genetics of the rhino subspecies. They concluded he cannot mate with a black rhino but there might be a chance he could mate with a southern white rhino, they are not endangered but genetically they are a different subspecies. The offspring would not be 100% northern white rhino but experts would be happy to have one better than nothing. Some experts are also looking at alternative reproduction techniques, in vitro fertilization being seriously considered.
This desperate situation was determined by the death of Suni at the same conservancy and of Angalifu at the San Diego zoo, the other male northern white rhinos. With no other males in the world, the situation is critical, the number of females being only 5: the two Fatu and Najin Sudan is living with, and three more females living in captivity: one in Kenya, one at San Diego zoo in the USA and one in another zoo in the Czech Republic.