Conservationists and animal lovers are in mourning today for the loss of Sudan the rhinoceros. Sudan was the world's last male northern white rhino. The 45-year-old animal was put down by his carers at a zoo in Kenya after "age-related complications". He had been in very poor health recently due to his old age. Zoo officials say his condition had "worsened significantly" and that he no longer had the strength to stand. His muscles had severely deteriorated throughout his body and his skin had "extensive wounds". The zoo's director said: "Sudan's death was a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him....He stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength."
Like many of Earth's majestic beasts, hunters have hunted the northern white rhino to near-extinction. There were more than 2,000 northern white rhino in the wild in the 1960s but their numbers continually dwindled because of the value of their horns. The only remaining northern white rhinos today are two females - Sudan's daughter and granddaughter. Both animals live in captivity so they will be protected. There are hopes that the two females can produce young to keep the species going. In vitro fertilization techniques using stored semen from other dead rhinos could be used to impregnate Sudan's offspring. The zoo is hoping to raise $9 million to fund the conservation project.