After the decimation of his species by poachers, Sudan the rhino finds himself in an extremely precarious position: He is the last male northern white rhinoceros on the planet.
According to The Independent, the 40-year-old animal has been put under 24-hour armed guard in the Kenya game conservancy where he lives. There is hope that Sudan will one day be able to produce progeny -- and possibly save his kind from extinction.
Armed rangers in Sudan guard the last male northern white rhino on earth. His species survived for 50 million years. pic.twitter.com/mIfpOA75fI
— Julian Dutton (@JulianDutton1) April 11, 2015
Sudan and two female rhinos of his subspecies are cared for by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The trio are reportedly three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Two other females live in captivity.
To protect him from poachers, Sudan has been fitted with radio transmitters, reports The Independent.
The rhino’s horn has also been removed as an added precaution.
"The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers," Elodie Sampere of the conservancy told The Dodo. "If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe."
— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) April 13, 2015
In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos roaming the earth, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Poaching, however, reduced this number to 15 by 1984.
Poachers aren't just dangerous to rhinos, whose horns can reportedly fetch prices of $75,000 per kilogram or more, but also to the people who try to protect them.
In a January interview, Simor Irungu, a ranger who guards Sudan and other rhinos at Ol Pejeta, explained just how perilous his line of work is.
“With the rising demand for rhino horn and ivory, we face many poaching attempts and while we manage to counter a large number of these, we often risk our lives in the line of duty," Irungu told the website World of Animals.
To provide their rangers with the best possible training and equipment, Ol Pejeta launched a GoFundMe campaign last month. Thus far, the campaign has raised about $7,700.
— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) February 9, 2015
To find out more about Sudan and Ol Pejeta, visit the conservancy's website.