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Sudan was an icon for the conservation world, and he also had a huge, positive impact on the conservation efforts for many other species than just rhinos. And because he holds a special place in my heart, I felt the need to write something for his memory right away when I read the sad news yesterday.
When I woke up yesterday morning and opened my social media, I saw a message that I wouldn’t have wanted to see.
I saw an update by the Ol Pejeta Conservancy telling that Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino in the world, had passed away on the 19th of March, 2018, and I felt a tear escape from the corner of my eye.
Sudan and one of his six caretakers, James, in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in February 2016.
Why This One Rhino Was So Important?
Sudan was the last male of his species walking on this Earth and with him died a bit more hope of the survival of the northern white rhino. His passing is also a grim reminder of the unsustainable actions of the humankind – about how we are affecting our environment. Human is the cause of the sixth mass extinction which is going on as we speak and the time to stop it is running short.
All is not lost yet, though, even for the northern white rhino. Sudan’s daughter, Najin, and her daughter Fatu are now the only two left alive, and they remain at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
However, the only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, Najin and Fatu, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females. We genuinely hope that the scientists will succeed in this project and we won’t lose yet another great species to extinction.
Najin and Fatu, the last female northern white rhinos in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Sudan was also important for my spouse and me personally because we met him in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in February 2016. On the same visit, we also had the rare privilege to meet the little Ringo the Rhino, who already passed away in July 2016 due to an illness. Saying that they both had a massive impact on us, feels like an understatement.
When we met Sudan and Ringo, we realized how gravely sad it is that so many species are under severe threats because of the irresponsible actions of humans. We also realized how much we wanted to help somehow and contribute to the wildlife conservation.
Conservation has always been close to my heart, and I’m very passionate about it, but after meeting Sudan and Ringo, it felt like I had finally found my true calling. I’m still searching for the ways to best make my contribution to this vital cause, but I’m sure that I will find my way. I always do.
Sudan had a positive influence on hundreds of thousands of people, and I’m sure that anyone who met him will not forget that encounter.
Me with Sudan in February 2016 in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the world in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in February 2016.
Meeting Sudan in February 2016
I’ll always remember how I felt when we stepped into Sudan’s enclosure in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. I remember how I felt huge respect, slight fear, and keen interest all the same time towards this beautiful and magnificent animal which was standing right there, just a few meters from us.
Despite his limitless power and robust presence, he was very calm, and a tranquil atmosphere surrounded him. One of Sudan’s six caretakers, James, was with us and he told us that we could approach him from his right side, which was his better-seeing eye’s side.
I will never forget how it felt to be so near to such a big animal and I was even petting Sudan while he was calmly eating his dinner! It was one of those moments I will remember for the rest of my life and a moment that I still cannot adequately describe with words.
Today, I feel so privileged that I had the chance to meet distinctive Sudan when he was in good health. He indeed was the charming bachelor all the articles about him always told.
I also feel despondent because I know how significant a loss to the world his passing really is. But he was the best global ambassador for wildlife conservation that we could’ve hoped for and certainly he won’t ever be forgotten!
With his legacy of how much he raised the global awareness of the conservation issues, he will continue to positively impact this cause even after his death.
A Tribute to Sudan
May your spirit carry on, like the wind that shakes the trees.
Remembering Sudan the Last Male Northern White Rhino
As sad as his death is, we also must remember that Sudan was already 45 years old, and he had severe age-related complications in his last weeks, so his passing didn’t come as a total surprise to the world. Of course, we all hoped that he would still recover. But even though he lost the battle to the illness, he was a fighter until the end!
And when his health deteriorated quickly in his last 24 hours, his caretakers in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya made the only right decision; to let him go.
No animal should never suffer unnecessarily, and we as humans are responsible for that. We have the responsibility of the animals, wild and domestic, until the end. We owe them that they can leave this world with dignity when their time has come.
People all over the world are mourning of Sudan’s death, but we as humans are responsible for that all he was, and all he represented will be remembered and that his legacy will not be forgotten.
Sudan raised global awareness of the plight of so many species under severe threats and awakened many people to take action towards a better future. That indeed is something to remember!
We certainly won’t forget him, as he held and will always hold an extraordinary place in our hearts, just like little Ringo the rhino does. And we hope that you won’t forget him, either. Thank you for reading this and thank you for sparing a thought for majestic Sudan.
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