The last male Northern White Rhino has died, but Canadian Wildlife Research chair hopes to keep a guarded optimism

Published On March 23, 2018 | By olivialevesque | News

Najin and her daughter Patu, the last two female Northern White rhinos, in their enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia National Park, Kenya. Photo by Baz Ratner (Reuters).

By Olivia Levesque

The Northern White Rhino Population is fundamentally extinct after the last existing male was reported dead on  March 20, by the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya.

“It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018” The Conservancy said in a press release on Tuesday.

It was reported that Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in his muscles and bones, combined with extensive skin wounds. Due to his suffering the veterinarian team tending to the animal made the final decision to euthanize him on March 18th.

“His demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO.

While many reacted to the solemn death of the rhino, Adam Ford, Canada Research Chair in Wildlife Restoration Ecology and Professor at the University of British Colombia, said that he hopes people can keep a guarded optimism for what we can do to help endangered species.

“The Southern White Rhino population was also decimated, and through a lot of hard work and collaboration they brought back the Southern White population numbering in the tens of thousands” Said Ford.

He says that natural and human forces go hand in hand in stabilizing ecosystems, and that conservationists will continue to work hard with nature, but that natural climate isn’t the only force their working with, or against.

“The Southern White recovered in a much more politically stable climate, where the Northern White persisted in places with a lot more conflict and insecurity” Ford said.

Researchers were able to save some of Sudan’s genetic material, in hopes of saving part of the Northern Whites genetic legacy.

“It’s like a ghost population,” Ford said referring to the remaining population of female Northern White Rhinos. “The goal is to reintroduce the genes from the surviving individuals into the wild by mixing them with the Southern White Rhinos, so at least there’s some of kind of genetic legacy of the Northern White in the wild”.

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