repost via @instarepost20 from @natgeo Photo by @amivitale. In December 2009, I heard about a plan to airlift four of the last Northern White Rhinos from a zoo in the Czech Republic back to Africa. It sounded like a storyline for a Disney film but in reality, it was a desperate, last ditch effort to save an entire species. Back then, there were only eight of these gentle, hulking creatures alive, all in zoos. This image is one of the rhinos leaving the zoo forever on a cold, snowy night. They landed and were brought to roam “free” on the savannas of Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy (@olpejeta). The hope was then to breed them. The air, water, and food, not to mention room to roam, might stimulate them to breed—and the offspring would then be used to repopulate Africa. On March 19th, Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino passed away. He lived a long, healthy life at the conservancy and died surrounded by people who loved him after suffering from age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. Sudan has been an inspirational figure for many across the world. Thousands have trooped to Ol Pejeta to see him and he has helped raise awareness for rhino conservation.
Research into new Assisted Reproductive Techniques for large mammals is underway due to him. The impact that this special animal has had on conservation is simply incredible. And there is still hope in the future that the subspecies might be restored through IVF. Support this important work: http://donate.olpejetaconservancy.org/projects/sudan
Poaching is not slowing down, and it’s entirely possible, even likely, that if the current trajectory of killing continues, rhinos, along with elephants and a host of lesser known plains animals, will be functionally extinct in our lifetime.
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