Kenyans can now relive the memorable life of Sudan, the last male white rhino.
The dummy of the rhino was brought back to the country last Friday from the Czech Republic where taxidermy was done, marking a major milestone in the conservation of rhino species.
Taxidermy is the art of preparing, stuffing or mounting an animal for display or study. It usually involves arranging an animal’s real skin over a fake body to make the animal look like it is alive.
The exercise is part of the Northern White Rhino Recovery Project which seeks to utilise the remains of the rhinoceros for educational and scientific purposes.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has said the dummy of the rhino, which died in March 2018, was returned to Kenya through a donation agreement with Zoo Dvur Kralove in Czech Republic to raise awareness on the plight of the endangered wildlife species. Speaking at the unveiling of the taxidermy at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, Cabinet Secretary for Wildlife and Tourism Penina Malonza said the taxidermy serves as a reminder to conservation stakeholders that conservation of wildlife should be top priority.
“I will ensure that Sudan’s taxidermy is displayed at a location accessible to Kenyans and the global community to ensure it continues to play its ambassadorial role for the species even in its death,” said Malonza.
Sudan died at 45 due to age-related complications, leaving only two Northern White Rhinos in the world, his daughter Najin and Najin’s daughter Fatu, currently at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia. Malonza announced that the ministry will allow Kenyans and the global community to view the remains of Sudan for a week without charges.
The CS said the ministry will collaborate with scientists and conservationists in the Recovery Project to save the Northern White Rhino from extinction using technology.
Meanwhile, international scientists and conservationists have created 24 embryos of the endangered Northern White Rhino. “We are proud that Kenya was identified as the country to carry the heavy burden of hosting a recovery project to give the Northern White Rhino a second chance from extinction,” said Malonza. She added: “The Northern White Rhino assisted-production project for the recovery project of the species based at Olpejeta conservancy has made great milestones with 24 embryos developed since 2019.”
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CS Malonza noted that embryos are currently preserved in a laboratory waiting to be transferred to a group of Southern White Rhinos which will serve as surrogates
Malonza said Kenya has 966 black rhinos, 922 southern white rhinos and only two northern white rhinos.