'We Must Stand Together': Bindi Irwin Responds To Loss Of Endangered Rhino

"Now more than ever, we must stand together and protect our rhinos."

Conservationist and TV personality Bindi Irwin is in mourning with the rest of the world over the death of our planet's last male northern white rhino, Sudan.

"Today was heartbreaking for us all as the world says goodbye to Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino on Earth," the daughter of the late Steve Irwin wrote on Twitter.

"We are sending all our love to the team at @OIPejeta who have lost part of their family today," Bindi continued. "Now more than ever, we must stand together and protect our rhinos."

Sudan was one of the subspecies of the white rhinoceros, which is much rarer and critically endangered than its counterpart, the southern white rhino. As reported by the BBC, most of the northern white rhino population was lost during a poaching crisis in the 1970s and 1980s when there was a higher demand for rhino horns. 

Due to the continuous threat of poaching, Sudan, who was 45 year old, was living under armed guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. As noted by National Geographic, the rhino was already struggling with age-related complications when he developed an infection on his back right leg that caused his overall condition to worsen.

"His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him," said Jan Stejskal, an official at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Sudan had lived until 2009.

"We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilized for conservation of critically endangered species," Stejskal added. "It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring."

Now, the only two living northern white rhinos, who also live at the Conservancy, are female and past the viable reproductive age. Conservationists were racing to find unique ways to fund Sudan's medical care in the hope that he would live longer and they could find more options for creating his offspring. In fact, they even created a Tinder profile for the rhino.

Now that Sudan is gone, scientists will rely on developing in vitro fertilization techniques in the hope of preserving the northern white rhino.

Ami Vitale, a National Geographic photographer, who spent years documenting Sudan, said it best when she captioned a post on Instagram, writing, "Today, we are witnessing the extinction of a species that had survived for millions of years but could not survive mankind."

Charity Helping Rhinos called for people to get involved in rhino conservation. "We owe a debt to Sudan and the #northernwhiterhino and must do all we can to preserve and protect his legacy."

Cover image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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