Around 300 people gathered in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the north of Kenya on Saturday to commemorate Sudan, the last male northern white rhino who recently died aged 45.
Among the attendees was Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary from Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism, which organized the event. Balala expressed in his speech that wildlife is a valuable asset to Kenya and the death of Sudan acts as a reminder that more efforts must be made to protect endangered wildlife.
Sudan, along with other two female northern white rhinos moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy from the Czech Republic in 2009. The three rhinos were placed under 24-hour armed protection. Unfortunately, the two female rhinos were unable to successfully conceive.
It means a shame to us humans, because all of us have facilitated to that, and we always say we all blame poachers for killing our animals, but we never blame ourselves for not doing anything when they are doing that. How did it happen, and what part did I take?
Sudan’s muscles started to degenerate with a skin infection on his hind legs in recent years, and gradually he became unable to stand. Following a unanimous decision made by officials of the Prague Zoological Garden, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Wildlife Protection Bureau in Kenya, Sudan was euthanized on March 19.
Currently there are 20 tombstones of rhinos standing in the conservation area, with most of the Rhino deaths caused by poaching.
In the 1960s, there were 2,000 wild northern white rhinos on earth, but now there are only two left – Sudan’s daughter and his granddaughter, and both have lost their natural reproduction capacity for physical reasons.
“It means a shame to us humans, because all of us have facilitated to that, and we always say [that] we all blame poachers for killing our animals, but we never blame ourselves for not doing anything when they are doing that. How did it happen, and what part did I take? What am I doing to make sure that another species do not go extinct?” said James Mwenda, a breeder from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Researchers are trying to save the northern white rhino population through modern breeding techniques, but such efforts are costly and difficult, meaning the northern white rhino is likely to become extinct in the future.