Heartbreaking image shows the last male northern white rhino

Heartbreaking image shows the last male northern white rhino

Humankind has brought its fair share of destruction to the world. It's easy to find a thousand ways in which we have plundered natural resources, irrevocably damaged the environment, and hurt one another to an unspeakable degree. We are now on track to cross a crucial emissions threshold that will cause global temperature rise to exceed the dangerous 2°C limit set by the Paris climate agreement - and that's just one item on the long list of ways we have screwed up the planet.

If you want to see the effects of humanity on nature, you need look no further than the various endangered species on Earth. It's easy to hear about these problems and forget with all the other disasters in the world right now, but seeing the last male of a species has a particular effect on you.

last northern white rhino Credit: Twitter / Daniel Schneider

Biologist Dan Schneider posted a photo of the last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, and the image alone has left many heartbroken. There are only two others of his kind still alive, both of them females. He posted the photo along with the caption: "Want to know what extinction looks like? This is the last male Northern White Rhino. The Last. Nevermore".

Efforts have been made to raise money to pay for breeding processes as the natural way isn't possible anymore. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where Sudan is kept, even put an advert on Tinder wherein if people matched they were directed to a link where they could make a donation.

The tweet received over 40,000 retweets and nearly 2000 responses, showing how invested people became in Sudan's plight. Schneider directed those who wanted to help to the Helping Rhinos charity, which is dedicated to ensuring the long-term survival of these species.

Sudan came to the conservancy in 2009, previously being kept in a zoo in the Czech Republic. The hope was to breed the animals in a climate more natural to their species, but they have been unsuccessful so far. On top of that, the other male, named Suni, died in October 2014.

northern white rhino with guards Credit: Getty

Sudan had his horn removed to keep potential poachers away, as his species has been wiped out across Asia by those seeking the precious ivory. "If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to them," Elodie Sampere of the conservancy said, "This is purely to keep him safe."

Simor Irungu, one of the rangers who protect Sudan, has said that the team regularly put themselves at risk to guard him:

"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."

Hopefully, their project to save the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction is successful, but in the meantime, it may be best to do as Dan says and check out the Helping Rhinos charity to make a little change in the world.