The health of the world's last male northern white rhino has deteriorated, bringing the rhino subspecies a step closer to extinction caused by poaching. The 45-year-old rhino named Sudan, listed as "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World" on the Tinder dating app last year as a fundraiser, lives with the last two female northern white rhinos. Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy said Thursday that Sudan was struggling despite 24-hour care by veterinarians (he's also protected by armed guards). Sudan appeared to recover well from an infection that developed on his back right leg at the end of 2017 but another, deeper infection was recently discovered in the same area, the conservancy said. "We are very concerned about him—he's extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily," the conservancy said in a statement.
Northern white rhinos once roamed parts of Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo, and Central African Republic, and there were more than 2,000 remaining as recently as 1960. The last northern white rhinos in the wild were observed more than a decade ago in Congo's Garamba National Park, whose animals have often been targeted by armed groups amid conflict in the region. Efforts to safeguard the subspecies by moving a small number to Kenya collapsed, reports the AP. Scientists now hope to save the northern white rhino from extinction by using southern white rhinos as surrogates to carry northern white rhino embryos and give birth. The in vitro process would be conducted using sperm from dead rhinos that is stored in Berlin and eggs extracted by surgery from the females at Ol Pejeta.