Apr 16, 2015 09:08 PM EDT
Sudan may appear as if he is just like any other Northern White Rhino, but in fact he is much more than that. Sudan is the last living male Northern White Rhino on the planet and conservationists need his help preventing his species from passing into oblivion. Because of his importance, he is kept under constant watch by armed guards that are there for his protection from poachers.
In 1960, there were over 2,000 northern white rhinos in the world. But, thanks to poaching, in 1984 there were just 15. Today, that incredible small number has dwindled to just 5 with only one of them being male.
The 42 year old rhino is kept under guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a team of armed rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya. The conservancy currently houses three of the five last remaining northern white rhinos, but Sudan, because he is the only male, must be defended in order to save the species from extinction.
Rhino poaches continues to rise across Africa with poachers killing 1,215 rhinos last year, an increase of over 20% compared to 2013. The horn of the rhino can sell for as much as $75,000 per kilogram with horns weighing between 1 and 4 kilograms once they are ground into dust and sold on the black market in China. In Vietnam, the horns are worth over $100,000 per kilogram thanks to the myth that they can cure cancer.
As a precaution, Ol Pejeta has already cut off Sudan's horn in an effort to discourage poachers from trying to kill him, although the horn will grow back. Sudan's two female counterparts that conservations hope will mate with Sudan producing more offspring to begin to repopulate the species, are also under guard. The two other northern white rhinos are currently kept in zoos in San Diego and the Czech Republic.
In addition to armed guards, conservationists have also implanted the rhinos with radio transmitters and regularly send rangers into nearby towns in the search for intel on poachers in the area.
The conservancy normally raises most of its funding from tourism in the area, but due the Ebola outbreak in Africa, tourism revenue has fallen sharply. The conservancy says that there is a misconception about Ebola in the area even though there hasn't been a single case in Kenya and many western European countries are actually closer to the outbreak than Kenya. To offset this drop in revenue, the conservancy has raised $64,000 via a crowdfunding campaign for their efforts.
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