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Last great white male rhino dies aged 45; Conservancy stores genetic material hoping to clone future rhinos

Sudan, the last great white rhino on earth, died on March 19. He was 45.

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Last great white male rhino dies aged 45; Conservancy stores genetic material hoping to clone future rhinos
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    Sudan, the last great white rhino on earth, died on March 19. He was 45.

    A statement by Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announced that Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; 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. Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo. Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females,” the statement read.

    In addition, since Sudan was the last male white rhino, his genetic material was collected. “This provides hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white  rhinos through advanced cellular technologies.

    “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He 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. One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO.

    Sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta.

    “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females,” the statement added.

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