Tags: white rhino | last male | Kenya

Last Known Male White Rhino Under 24-Hour Watch in Kenya

Last Known Male White Rhino Under 24-Hour Watch in Kenya
Sudan, the last male white rhinoceros. (Noor Khamis/Reuters /Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 16 April 2015 01:34 PM

The last known northern white Rhino is under constant surveillance at a conservancy in Kenya, and scientists are hoping to save his subspecies from extinction by mating him with at least one of the two female northern white rhinos at the facility.

According to CNN, 42-year-old Sudan and his female companions, Fatu, age 15, and Najin, age 25, are under 24-hour protection by armed guards. They are all physiologically healthy but age could be a factor in achieving conception.

"Sudan is currently old and may not be able to naturally mount and mate with a female," George Paul, deputy veterinarian at the conservancy, told CNN. Sudan also has a low sperm count, which makes both natural and scientific efforts more difficult, experts said.
Najin could conceive, but her hind legs are so weak, she may not be able to support a mounted male.

"There has been recorded mating between different pairs over the last few years, but not conceptions," Paul told CNN. "Based on a recent health examination conducted, both animals have a regular estrus cycle, but no conception has been recorded."

If conception doesn't take place soon, the species will be extinct, CNN reported.

Rhinos are highly targeted by poachers and 1,020 rhinos were poached in 2014 alone.

International experts are looking at alternative scientific methods to keep the species alive.
While the northern white rhino cannot mate with a black rhino, there is a chance it could mate with the southern white rhino, which is not an endangered species. They are genetically a different subspecies from the northern white rhino but experts say it would be one option to preserve some genetic link to the species.

A committee is also investigating alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization, according to CNN.

"In other countries, success has been achieved with embryo transfer in a different rhino species, thus that, as a technique, can be presupposed to be the most promising," Paul told CNN. "However, consultations are ongoing amongst different reproductive technique experts on the way forward."

The need to find a solution is urgent.

"Realistically, we are looking at these animals dying in the next decade or so. But hopefully, using artificial methods of reproduction, we might be able to bring them back in the future," Paul told CNN.

"This might mean that it will happen when the current animals are already deceased, but it could happen."

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The last known northern white Rhino is under constant surveillance at a conservancy in Kenya.
white rhino, last male, Kenya
Thursday, 16 April 2015 01:34 PM
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