Nairobi, March 29 (Swara) – The taxidermy of the last male Northern White Rhino (NWR) known to the world, named “Sudan”, is now on display for public viewing at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.
Taxidermy is the process of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skin of an animal in a lifelike way so that it can be displayed or preserved for decorative, scientific, or educational purposes.
Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 18 2018 at the age of 45.
His taxidermy was presented to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Peninah Malonza by the Czech Republic Ambassador to Kenya, Martin Klepteko, on March 28.
The laborious work and expertise to piece together the taxidermy was done in the Czech Republic. Through a multilateral agreement, Zoo Dvůr Králové organized the building of Sudan’s taxidermy for scientific and educational purposes. The taxidermy was finalized in 2021 and has been on display in the National Museum in Prague, Czech Republic.
In 2022, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Zoo Dvůr Králové entered into a Donation Agreement that concluded how the taxidermy of Sudan would be donated and transferred to Kenya.
Speaking at the grand reception of the taxidermy, Malonza said it was a sad moment that Kenya was receiving the taxidermy of Sudan but “it will be a constant reminder that we will be judged by future generations if we don’t take the necessary efforts to save the species from extinction.” She added, “While Sudan’s taxidermy is a prized wildlife memorabilia, it also serves as a constant reminder to the government and partners that supporting the conservation of our keystone species remains at the apex of our mandate.”
Touching on efforts to fight against the possibility of having Northern White Rhino species being extinct, Malonza said Kenya will continue to partner with the BioRescue consortium of local and international scientists and conservationists to save the Northern White rhinos from extinction using novel technologies.
The assisted reproduction project for the recovery of the NWR based at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is being undertaken in collaboration with KWS, Zoo Dvůr Králové (Czech Republic), Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Germany) Avantea Laboratory (Italy), Osaka University (Japan) and Wildlife Research and Training institute (WRTI) and has so far made great milestones. Twelve ova pick-up missions have been undertaken since 2019 and 24 NWR embryos have been developed.
In his remarks, KWS Acting Director General Dr Erustus Kanga reiterated the agency’s determination to protect and nurture viable populations of rhino species. “As a Service charged with conserving Kenya’s wildlife in trust for all Kenyans, we shall not relent in achieving and maintaining zero incidents of poaching,” he said. The DG said conserving wildlife species has its challenges, citing, a devastating drought over the past months that has ravaged almost all parts of the country, with wildlife bearing the brunt of lack of fodder and water.
Timeline of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino:
1975: Sudan was rescued from South Sudan and taken to ZOO Dvůr Králové, Czech Republic
1983: Sudan’s calf Nabire was born at ZOO Dvůr Králové
1989: Sudan’s calf Najin was born at ZOO Dvůr Králové. Najin is one of the only two surviving NWR.
The 2000s: There was a drop-in reproduction performance among the individuals held in zoos worldwide. This necessitated the introduction of some rhinos to a natural environment with the hope of prompting natural behaviour and consequently breeding.
2009: Sudan was one of the four NWR that were transported from Zoo Dvůr Králové to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya
2011 and 2012: Sudan mated with Fatu and Najin but conception was not achieved owing to reproductive issues identified in 2014 in both females.
2018: Death of Sudan on 18th March 2018
2019: Sudan skin and skeleton transported to the Czech Republic
2021: Sudan taxidermy completed and displayed in the Czech Republic together with its skeleton
2023: Sudan taxidermy was transported to Kenya for display on March 24, 2023.