Sudan is a 45-year-old northern white rhinoceros – and the last male of his kind. He’s suffering from poor health, and if he dies before he is able to mate it will likely signal the effective extinction of the northern white rhino, a subspecies that was driven to its current crisis by poaching. “We are very concerned about him — he’s extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily,” said the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, where Sudan and two female white rhinos Najin and Fatu live.

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Sudan and three other white rhinoceros, including another male who has since died, arrived at Ol Pejeta from a Czech zoo in 2009. The last male northern white rhino was listed as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on Tinder as part of a fundraiser last year. He had earlier been successfully treated for an infection, though his caregivers recently discovered a deeper infection that had spread. If Sudan dies, there is still some hope for the subspecies’ survival. Scientists hope to use southern white rhinos as surrogates for northern white rhino embyros created through an in vitro process that incorporates sperm from dead rhinos stored in Berlin and eggs extracted at Ol Pejeta.

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The northern white rhinoceros once lived throughout Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic. In 1960, there were still 2,000 animals left in the wild. Today, there are none. The last wild northern white rhinoceros were seen over 10 years ago in Congo‘s Garamba National Park, at which animals have often been caught in the crossfire of military conflict. The story of the southern white rhinoceros offers some reason for cautious optimism. After declining to fewer than 100 at the dawn of the 20th century, it made an enormous recovery thanks to a successful protection effort that brought the population back up to 20,000 today.

Via US News

Images via Wikimedia