Obituary for a Rhino

A picture of Sudan in 2010

A picture of Sudan in 2010

Amila Niksic, Writer

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The last male northern white rhino in the world has passed away. Sudan, a 45 year-old rhino living in Kenya, was euthanized after several grueling and painful days of illness and infection. Sudan was the last male of the entire subspecies, and he is survived by the last two remaining female northern white rhinos, his daughter and granddaughter. Researchers have managed to save DNA samples from Sudan and other rhinos, and are hoping to use them to artificially inseminate the female rhinos as a last ditch attempt to save the species from extinction.  The northern white rhino population decreased dramatically over the last one hundred years, mainly due to poaching. In 1909 there were an estimated 2,000-3,000 northern white rhinos in the world, whereas there are now only two.

Why do poachers target these gentle giants? Greed. The rhino horn industry in Asian countries has become extremely large in the last several decades. Rhino horn is thought to have many medicinal properties and is also displayed as a sign of great wealth. Many rhinos are slaughtered just for their horns and then left to die of blood loss or infection. A single 3 kilogram (around 6 lbs.) rhino horn can be sold on the black market for approximately $300,000, or $100,000 per kilo.  Many rhinos are now being protected in wildlife institutions with armed guards, although poachers will stop at nothing to claim their prizes. As researchers are actively trying to save yet another species from going extinct, losing Sudan takes them one step further from saving these beautiful animals.

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