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Last male northern white rhino dies in Kenya

Sudan who lived at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya was put to sleep on Monday after age-related injuries worsened significantly.

Sudan, 45, who lived at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya was put to sleep on Monday, March 19, 2018, after age-related injuries worsened significantly.

How Did Sudan die?

His keepers Ol Pejeta broke the sad news on Twitter. The elderly rhino was being treated for degenerative changes in his muscles and bones, combined with extensive skin wounds.

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Unable to stand up and suffering a great deal in his last 24 hours, Sudan was put down by veterinarians at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

His death leaves only two females of the subspecies alive in the world. Hope for preserving the northern white rhino now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques.

Why is a northern white rhino so rare?

The white rhinoceros consists of two sub-species: the southern white rhino, with an estimated 20,000 living in the wild, and the much rarer and critically endangered northern white rhino.

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Sudan, was the last surviving male of the rarer variety, after the natural death of a second male in late 2014.

The subspecies' population in Africa was wiped out during the poaching crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. Poaching was fuelled by demand for rhino horn for use in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia, and for dagger handles in Yemen.

The last few dozen wild northern white rhinos in the Democratic Republic of Congo died in fighting by the early 2000s.

By 2008, the northern white rhino was considered extinct in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Is there hope for the subspecies to survive?

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In 2009, the four remaining northern white rhinos, two males and two females, were transferred from the Czech zoo to Ol Pejeta in Kenya.

The hope was that this would encourage breeding. However, there were no successful pregnancies and Sudan was retired from his role as a potential mate four years ago.

Sudan's genetic material was collected on Monday, March 19, 2018, conservationists said, to support future attempts to preserve the subspecies.

The stored semen, and eggs from the remaining younger females, still gives conservationists hope that Najin and Fatu will be able to have their own calves one day.

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Sudan and Tinder

An account was created for Sudan on the dating app Tinder last year, not to find love, but to help fund the development of IVF for rhinos.

The move won him fans across the world, fans who will now be mourning his death and the northern white rhino's proximity to extinction.

Sudan’s death should be taken as a warning bell.  Time is running out for too many species.

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