Fears over the future of the northern white rhino increase after the last male of the subspecies in Kenya dies. But advances in fertility treatment, may mean the rare animal will re-emerge in the future.

Wardens assist the last surviving male northern white rhino named
Wardens assist the last surviving male northern white rhino named "Sudan" as it grazes at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia national park, Kenya. June 14, 2015 (Reuters)

The world's last male northern white rhino has died, the Kenyan conservancy taking care of Sudan said.

Only females of the northern white rhino subspecies remain in the world, though scientists hope they can save it from extinction.

"Sudan's condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal," Ol Pejeta Conservancy said. "The veterinary team from the Dver Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanise him."

TRT World's Abubakr al Shamahi reports. 

Forty-five-year-old Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that had affected his muscles, bones and also gave him extensive skin wounds.

The rhino had spent two weeks in late February and early March lying in his pen due to discomfort from a deep wound on his right hind leg.

Sudan had previously lived at the Dver Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic before being transported to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, about 250 kilometres north of Nairobi, where he lived with the last two females of the same species, 27-year-old Najin and 17-year-old Fatu.

After all attempts at getting him to mate naturally failed, conservationists last year put Sudan on dating app Tinder, hoping to raise enough money to pay for a $9 million fertility treatment.

Ol Pejeta said that they had collected Sudan's genetic material on Monday that could be used in future to attempt reproduction of northern white rhinos.

It said scientists were also seeking ways to do in vitro fertilisation.

"The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females," it said

While there are thousands of southern white rhinos still roaming the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, decades of rampant poaching have drastically cut numbers of northern whites.

Poachers can sell northern white rhino horns for $50,000 per kilo, making them more valuable than gold.

Kenya had 20,000 rhinos in the 1970s, falling to 400 in the 1990s. It now has 650, almost all of which are black rhinos.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies