Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in existence, died on Monday, Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced early Tuesday. He was 45 and "being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds," the conservancy said. "He was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta, and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him."
There are now only two northern white rhinos left in the world: Sudan's daughters, Najin and Fatu. The only hope for keeping the subspecies going now involves creating new in vitro fertilization techniques using eggs from Najin and Fatu, stored northern white rhino sperm, and surrogate female southern white rhinos, the conservancy said. Sudan "was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity," Ol Pejeta CEO Richard Vinge said. "One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide."
On a happier note, the small Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in India's Assam state reported Monday that its population of one-horned rhinos has risen to 102 from 93 during its last census in 2012. "Our efforts at conserving the rhino have paid off," forestry officer Pradipta Baruah told The Associated Press. All five rhino species in the world are under threat from poachers; rhino horns are sold on the black market, especially in countries where the horn is believed to increase male potency.