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The last male northern white rhino in the world has died due to 'age-related' complications, the conservancy where he lived has confirmed.
Sudan, who was 45 years old, was euthanised yesterday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy north of Nairobi, Kenya after his condition 'worsened significantly', leaving him unable to stand.
His species will now face almost-certain extinction with just two female northern white rhinos left, which also live at the conservancy.
"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.
The conservancy added that Sudan had 'significantly contributed' to the survival of his species as he fathered two females. His genetic material has now been collected and may be used to try to reproduce more northern white rhinos using 'advanced cellular technologies'.
Sudan's death comes as a shock as the rhino was reportedly on the mend, after an infection in his leg had previously led to the suggestion that he may need to be put down.
The 45-year-old rhino had spent the past few weeks in pain because of the infection, which stemmed from a deep wound on his right hind leg.
However, the conservancy vet Stephen Ngulu said they had managed to bring the situation under control using painkillers and antibiotics, and Sudan had regained his appetite.
Sadly, all recent attempts at getting Sudan to mate naturally with his 27-year-old female companion Najin failed, leading to conservationists to put Sudan on Tinder last year to raise money for fertility treatment.
Scientists hoped to help Sudan reproduce via in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using sperm taken from him and eggs taken from Najin. The embryo would have been implanted in a surrogate southern white rhino, Ngulu said.
Experts from across Africa and Europe hoped to have designed a means of extracting the eggs from Najin by the end of this year, the conservancy vet added.
It is now unclear whether reproduction using Sudan's genetic material will still be possible.
Along with Najin, Sudan also lived at Ol Pejeta Conservancy with another female companion, 17-year-old Fatu.
Zachary Mutai, who cared for Sudan at Ol Pejeta for the last eight years, previously said he was sad to see Sudan getting older.
"Sudan is my great friend," he said.
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