A memorial service for the last male Northern White rhino, Sudan, was held yesterday attended by local and international conservationists at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County.
45-year-old Sudan died of age-related complications on March 19 at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and a plaque in his honour was unveiled by Kenyan Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during the service at the Rhino Memorial Cemetery.
Sudan’s death led a Kenyan government official to declare anyone caught possessing ivory should be sentenced to life in prison.
“Ivory belongs to elephants and rhinos,” the Tourism Minister said at the service. “We are going to change our laws so that anyone caught with ivory will be jailed for life,” he added.
Ol Pejeta paid tribute to Sudan as a global figure that will go down as the most prolific rhino ambassador in history.
“The Last Male Standing. The Most Eligible Bachelor. These are some of the affectionate epithets that were bestowed on Sudan over the years. Born in the wild in Sudan in 1973, Sudan has subsequently evolved into a legend – in part due to his status as the last male member of a rhino subspecies,” a statement from the conservancy said.
Sudan is survived by the last two females of his species, his 27-year-old daughter Najin and 17-year-old granddaughter Fatu. According to Ol Pejeta, the only hope for preserving their species is through in vitro fertilisation using their eggs and stored semen.
As part of an effort to keep memories of Sudan alive through generations, the conservancy announced that a documentary, filmed by award-winning US film maker David Hambridge entitled ‘The Last Male Standing’ will be released early next year.