Last male northern white rhino dies in Kenya: keepers

NAIROBI, KENYA:  The last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya at the age of 45, his keepers announcedyesterday, leaving only two females of his subspecies alive.

The rhino, named Sudan, "was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds," according to a statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy where he lived under armed guard to prevent poaching.

"His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team... made the decision to euthanise him."

Theoretically, the death of Sudan assures the extinction of this subspecies of rhino.

But scientists have gathered his genetic material and are working on developing in-vitro fertilisation techniques to preserve the subspecies.

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. - AFP