Scientists are hopeful that treatment will help the last male white rhino in the world recover from his potentially life-threatening ailment.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya announced last week that the health of the 45-year-old northern white rhino, named Sudan, was deteriorating and that his future "was not looking bright" after he developed an "age-related infection" on his leg.
Today, Sudan's caretakers said they were "cautiously optimistic" that Sudan would respond to treatments being administered by veterinarians on site and that his spirits had been lifted after a bout of heavy rain in the area and a stroll through the grounds.
It’s been raining heavily on Ol Pejeta for the past couple of days and the weather certainly seems to have lifted Sudan’s spirits. He has been able to wallow in the mud - with the careful assistance of his caregivers – something that he seems to savour. pic.twitter.com/B0bhaIL7GN— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 6, 2018
The resilience that Sudan is showing in the face of adversity is truly remarkable. Yesterday, he came out of his boma, took a stroll in the larger enclosure and grazed peacefully. Our beloved Mzee has clearly not lost the will to live and is not going down without a fight. pic.twitter.com/a6ULh2Nump— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 4, 2018
Sudan's caregivers are continuing to monitor him around the clock, but the possibility that he could be euthanized because of the infection on his leg still looms. The conservancy expressed that it does not want Sudan to "suffer unnecessarily."
Everything possible is being done to help him regain his health. We are very concerned about him - he's extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily.— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 1, 2018
We will keep you updated on all developments. Please keep him in your thoughts.
Whether Sudan makes it or not, the success of the efforts made by conservationists and scientists to save the northern white rhino from extinction will depend on the health of his daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu and in vitro fertilization, The Associated Press reported.
Fatu's eggs would likely have to be extracted because the rhinos are not able to reproduce naturally, according to the AP. Semen from dead northern white rhinos is being stored in several places around the world.
Northern white rhinos were last seen in the wild at the Garamba National Park in the Congo, which is often targeted by poachers, the AP reported. The subspecies was especially vulnerable due to conflicts that swept through central Africa.
In 2015, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy told ABC News four armed rangers in Kenya were guarding Sudan after he was acquired by the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.