A species' dying moments: Photos show the last male northern white rhino being comforted by a ranger before he died at the age of 45 in Kenya, leaving his daughter and granddaughter as the only two of their kind in the world
· World's last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, lived under armed guard in Kenya to prevent poaching
· 45-year-old was euthanised on Monday after suffering from degenerative muscle and bone condition
· He was brought to Kenya in 2009 with three other white rhinos in the hope they would breed, but never did
· Scientists have gathered his genetic material and hope to develop IVF techniques to preserve the species
These are the heartbreaking scenes as wildlife ranger Zacharia Mutai says goodbye to Sudan, the last the last male northern white rhino on earth, who died shortly after the photograph was taken on a Kenyan wildlife reserve.
The rhino, named Sudan, was suffering from a degenerative muscle and bone condition linked to age when keepers found he was unable to stand up and made the decision to euthanise him on Monday.
Sudan's demise should spell the end of his subspecies, but scientists have gathered genetic material and hope to develop IVF techniques to produce more white rhinos. He is survived by his daughter and grand daughter.
|Ranger Zacharia Mutai, pictured, comforts Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino on the planet, moments before he was euthanised by a vet due to his age-related muscle and bone wasting disease at the Ole Pejeta Wildlife park in Kenya|
|Experts made the decision to kill the rhino because he was no longer able to stand as a result of disease|
|The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, has died in Kenya at the age of 45, leaving just two females of his subspecies alive|
|Najin (right), Sudan's daughter, and Patu (left) his granddaughter, are now the only two living members of the species. They are pictured on Tuesday grazing at the national park where Sudan died|
|Sudan, who was named after the country of his birth, had been brought to Kenya from a Czech zoo in 2009 along with another male and two females in the hopes they might breed, but produced no offspring|
|Sudan was suffering from a degenerative muscle and bone condition linked to age when his keepers found he was unable to stand and decided to euthanise him (file image)|
|When Sudan was born in the early 1970s there were believed to be around 500 northern white rhino living in central Africa, but that population was reduced to just 15 by the middle of the following decade|
A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where he was kept under armed guard to prevent poaching, said his condition 'worsened significantly' and he was no longer able to stand.
His muscles and bones had degenerated and his skin had extensive wounds, with a deep infection on his back right leg.
The rhino had been part of an ambitious effort to save the subspecies from extinction after decades of decimation by poachers, with the help of the two surviving females.
The northern white rhino population in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad was largely wiped out during the poaching crisis of the 1970s and 80s, fueled by demand for rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia and dagger handles in Yemen.
A final remaining wild population of about 20-30 rhinos in the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed in fighting in the late nineties and early 2000s, and by 2008 the northern white rhino was considered extinct in the wild.
Sudan was named after the country of his birth, now South Sudan, and was captured in 1973 at around three years old before being taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo, in the Czech Republic.
But in 2009 he was moved to Kenya along with another male and two females - his daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu - in an ambitious effort to save the species.
|Sudan was being kept at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and had to be under armed guard in order to prevent poaching|
|Wild white rhinos were wiped out across Uganda, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad thanks to poaching, before the final 30 were killed during conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo|
Sudan was captured in the wild in 1973 at around three years old before being shipped to a zoo in the Czech Republic as part of their northern white rhino display. He spent the rest of his life in captivity
|Keepers have collected genetic material from Sudan and now hope to develop IVF techniques allowing them to keep the species from dying out completely|
The rhinos were given a 90,000 acre pen which was watched over by armed guards 24 hours a day to prevent them from being poached.
Horn-embedded transmitters, watchtowers, fences, drones and guard dogs were also used to protect them.
'However, despite the fact that they were seen mating, there were no successful pregnancies,' the conservancy said.
While Sudan's death marks a turning point for the species, he has been technically infertile for years, meaning IVF has long been the northern white rhino's last hope of survival.
Scientists now hope to develop techniques using frozen eggs and sperm which will allow the species to survive.
'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,' said the conservancy's CEO, Richard Vigne.
Sudan was something of a celebrity, attracting thousands of visitors. Last year he was listed as 'The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World' on the Tinder dating app in a fundraising effort.
Such was the importance of Sudan's survival that he was guarded 24 hours a day using drones, horn-embedded transmitters, guard dogs and armed keepers
While northern white rhinos are now facing extinction, there are around 20,000 southern white rhinos left in South Africa thanks to intensive conservation and breeding efforts
While Sudan's death marks a turning point in the fight to save the species, he has been technically infertile for years, meaning IVF is the northern white rhino's final hope
|Keepers said that Sudan's death 'is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him'|
Rangers caring for Sudan described him as gentle and, as his condition worsened in recent weeks, expressed sadness over his imminent death.
The rhino 'significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females,' the conservancy said.
'Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies.'
The only hope for preserving the subspecies 'now lies in developing in vitro fertilization techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females,' the statement said.
Sudan's death 'is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him. But we should not give up,' said Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.
'It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring.'
Northern white rhinos once roamed parts of Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic, and were particularly vulnerable because of the armed conflicts that have swept the region over decades.
Other rhinos, the southern white rhino and another species, the black rhino, are under heavy pressure from poachers who kill them for their horns to supply illegal markets in parts of Asia.
Roughly 20,000 southern white rhinos remain in Africa. Their numbers dipped below 100 around a century ago, but an intense effort initiated by South African conservationist Ian Player in the mid-20th century turned things around.
International wildlife charity Born Free's President and co-founder, Will Travers OBE said 'When are we going to understand that we cannot continue to use and abuse wild species without serious consequences?'
'The pressures on wild species from habitat loss, persecution, trade, hunting, trophy hunting, resources extraction, land conversion, agriculture and more, combined with the relentless growth in the human population begs the question: Will there be room for non-human life on earth after we have finished?'
Source : dailymail.co.uk