Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on the planet who became famous after he was listed as Tinder’s “Most Eligible Bachelor in the World,” is dying.
"It’s only a matter of days,” Elodie Sampere, communications manager for Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, told Fox News in an exclusive interview. “He’s ailing.”
Sudan is critical in saving the subspecies of rhinos from extinction. His illness has sparked a crowdfunding effort that has already raised $1 million – but $9 million is needed to save his breed. The money would allow Sudan’s sperm to be implanted in the world’s last two female northern white rhinos alive.
Sampere said Sudan, 45, developed “an uncomfortable age-related infection” in his back right leg and, despite 24-hour care, is not responding to treatment. The last three weeks, she said, his health has deteriorated rapidly.
The Conservancy told Fox News it is doing all it can to keep him alive – but there is only so much it can do.
“We are very concerned about him – he’s very old for a rhino, and we don’t want him to suffer unnecessarily,” the Conservancy said in a statement.
Sampere said Sudan can still walk around. But, she added, when the day comes that he can’t get up and forage for himself, "we will have to put him down, euthanize him.”
Sudan became well-known last year when Ol Pejeta partnered with Tinder to raise awareness of the dying breed. Sudan was dubbed “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” and when users swiped right on his profile, they were directed to his donation page.
All hopes of saving the subspecies lie with Najin, 27, and her daughter, Fatu, 18 – which are both at Ol Pejeta. A fourth female northern white rhino, Nola, died at the San Diego Zoo in 2015.
Najin and Fatu are both capable of reproducing – but the surrogacy process is complicated and pricey. The rhinos also get 24-hour anti-poaching security in Kenya, a country where poaching is a big problem. The animals are poached for its horns, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars because some believe it has medicinal value. The illegal rhino horn trade has even helped finance the terrorist group al-Shabab, which has made millions slaughtering rhinos and elephants for ivory.
That’s why conservationist say so much money is need to save white rhinos.
“Giving birth to just one rhino won’t save the species,” says Sampere, “we need at least 10 babies.”