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A caregiver calms Sudan, the last known male of the northern white rhinoceros subspecies, on December 5, 2016, at the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Laikipia County -- at the foot of Mount Kenya -- that is home to the planet's last-three northern white rhinoceros.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at the African Black market, rhino horn sells for up to 60,000 USD (57,000 euros) per kilogram -- more than gold or cocaine -- and in the last eight years alone roughly a quarter of the world population has been killed in South Africa, home to 80 percent of the remaining animals.

(TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies From Age Related Complications

We were extremely sad to learn that the world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died this week in Kenya.

According to NBC News reports, researchers announced the news Tuesday that Sudan had passed from “age-related complications,” saying he “stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.”

A statement from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized on Monday after his condition “worsened significantly” and he was no longer able to stand. His muscles and bones had degenerated and his skin had extensive wounds, with a deep infection on his back right leg.

We hope he didn’t suffer too much. At least he wasn’t hunted down by some evil colonizers for his horn though.

Sudan was born in Sudan before being taken to a Czech zoo where he lived for some time before being transferred to Kenya in 2009 with the three other remaining fertile northern white rhinos at the time. They were placed under 24-hour armed guard and fed a special diet.

“However, despite the fact that they were seen mating, there were no successful pregnancies,” the conservancy said.

Sudan was part of an effort to help rescue the Northern Whites from extinction after years of being targeted by poachers. His daughter Najin, and her daughter, Fatu are the surviving females at Ol Pejeta. Researchers are now focused on using in vitro fertilization to keep the subspecies alive, using stored semen from other dead rhinos, eggs extracted from Najin and Fatu and surrogate Southern white female rhinos.

“He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said the conservancy’s CEO, Richard Vigne.

Pretty sad stuff right? There are still around 20,000 southern white rhinos in Africa, but a hundred years ago they were under threat of extinction, numbering less than 100. South African conservationist Ian Player played a huge role in increasing the number of the animals thanks to efforts he initiated in the mid 20th century. Before their numbers dwindled, northern white rhinos could be found in Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and the Central African Republic but the conflicts across the region also posed a significant danger for the animals as well. Southern white rhinos and black rhinos continue to be hunted by poachers who sell their horns on the black market. In 2016 it was estimated that rhino horn sold for up to 60,000 USD per kilogram — more than gold or cocaine!!!

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