BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 27 April '17

Last male northern white rhino joins dating app in last-chance bid to save the species

A rhino named Sudan has been described as ‘the most eligible bachelor in the world’ by a Kenyan wildlife conservancy.

He’s the world’s last male northern white rhino, and wildlife experts have got him on the Tinder dating app in a last-chance breeding effort to keep the species alive.

Potential suitors

As well as being the world’s most eligible bachelor, Sudan, who is surrounded by armed guards, is also one of the most protected males on the planet.

Sudan lives his bachelor life at Ol Pejeta Conservancy with his two female northern white rhino counterparts, Najin and Fatu. They have been unable to breed naturally due to a range of issues including old age. However, there are 17,000 other potential female southern white rhino suitors.

Sudan appears on Tinder in 190 countries and in over 40 languages. The goal is to raise the $9 million needed to protect the northern white rhino from extinction.

‘The plight that currently faces the northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet. Ultimately, the aim will be to reintroduce a viable population of northern white rhino back into the wild which is where their true value will be realised.’

RICHARD VIGNE
CEO, Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Enter Tinder

When liked, the Tinder profile will direct the viewer to a page from which they can donate towards the cause.

The funds raised will go towards ongoing research into Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) by a consortium of institutions. Once perfected, this technology – in particular in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) – will hopefully lead to successful pregnancies that gradually build up a viable herd of northern white rhinos.

Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, says this approach represents ‘the last option to save the species after all previous breeding attempts proved futile.’ If successful, this will be the first time for scientists to carry out artificial reproduction in rhinos.

‘We are in a race. A race against the extinction of the northern white rhino species. We urgently need to raise awareness and funds for Sudan. No one could run this campaign better with us than Tinder. It will offer ‘the most eligible bachelor’ global exposure in such a meaningful way. We are honoured and very proud to be part of this campaign that will have a positive impact on our environment.’

MATHIEU PLACARD
Regional managing director, Ogilvy Africa

Next steps

The European Northern White Rhino Working Group, made up of international zoological experts, met in early March to discuss the next steps in bringing the northern white rhino back from the brink of extinction.

For the past two years, experts have been developing a technique known as ovum pick-up (OPU) on southern white rhinos, which involves the collection of eggs from females.

‘Financial support remains the biggest challenge to this project. At 43 years, Sudan does not have much longer to live. To win this run against time it is very crucial to find major funds as quickly as possible.’

STEVEN SEET
Head of press and communications at the Leibniz-IZW, part of the research consortium

While the first stages of embryonic development have been achieved already, scientists now face the challenge of keeping the cells alive long enough to mature and be fertilised, so that they develop into embryos suitable for transfer. 

However, the scientists are optimistic that they can harvest and mature oocytes from the last northern white rhinoceroses in 2017.

If successful, the OPU will be conducted on the two female northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, in the next few months. Once fertilised, using stored semen, the resulting embryos will be implemented into surrogate southern white rhino females.

Click here for more on how you can support Sudan and all white rhinos.