Veterinarians work to save the world’s only male northern white rhino

Sudan is 45 years old.

An advanced age for a northern white rhino. His health made worse when an infection took hold of his is back right leg late last year. Now, the race is on to save Sudan’s life. He is, after all, the only male left of his kind left on Earth. Two females also remain.

But the species is on the brink of extinction.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya delivered the news on social media in a devastating series of tweets.

“At the advanced age of 45, his health has begun deteriorating, and his future is not looking bright,” the conservancy wrote.

At first, hope.

“It was immediately assessed by a team of vets from around the world, and responded well to treatment, healing quickly. He resumed normal movement and foraging habits over January up to mid-February, with his demeanour and general activity improving significantly.”

But then, bad news.

Conservationists are hoping science could save the species.

Officials have been working with IVF techniques. But the science is complex and reproductive technology involving the rhinos – and surrogate rhinos – is groundbreaking work.

“Although the northern white rhino females showed positive signs of cycling, no confirmed pregnancies occurred,” the Conservancy updated late last year.

Najin and Fatu, who are 28 and 17 years old respectively, also live at the conservancy.

Some of their eggs have been harvested and some sperm from deceased male northern rhinos have been saved. Eggs are also being harvested from southern white rhinos.

“Achieving success in artificial reproduction techniques using surrogate southern white rhinos is now the only way save some of the northern white genes in living animals. This has never been before attempted in rhinos,” the conservancy adds.

To date, there are no test-tube baby rhinos.

And conservationists are holding their breath for Sudan to rebound.

Prayers for Sudan, indeed.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.


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