Tinder may save the northern white rhino Featured

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In South Africa, the fate of the local rhino population in light of poaching syndicates and poor birth rates has become a national concern. While we worry about the potential extinction of the species, Kenya is facing the reality: The last male of the northern white rhinoceros subspecies is getting old, and desperately needs to mate.

Sudan the rhino on tinderSo the Ol Pejeta conservancy, where Sudan, the last of his kind lives, did what any modern “parent” would do. They put the world’s last northern white rhino on dating app Tinder.

While Sudan is definitely looking for a baby mama, the posting on Tinder is aimed at raising money rather than matchmaking. There are two females of his species, but previous attempts to mate them have failed. The conservancy is now looking to try a last-ditch attempt through a fertility treatment that will cost around $9 million.

Elodie Sampere, Marketing Manager at Ol Pejeta says that the conservancy tried everything to get the rhinos to mate naturally, but even though “there were a couple of matings”, none resulted in a pregnancy. Now, scientists are looking to use Sudan's sperm to fertilise an egg from one of the two last northern white rhino females: 17-year-old Satu or 27-year-old Najin. The embryo will be implanted in a surrogate southern white rhino, a far more common species.

Unfortunately, Najin is too old to breed and Fatu has a uterine condition that renders her infertile.

To raise support for the procedure, Sudan’s Tinder profile takes users to Ol Pejeta donation page. “I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me,” reads his profile. “I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. 6 ft tall and 5000 pounds if it matters.” Just hours after he went online, the number of hits on the page was so high that the Ol Pejeta website crashed.

Sudan is highly endangered because poachers sell rhino horns for $50 000 per kilo, making them more valuable than gold or cocaine. At 43, Sudan is old for a rhino, and his keepers fear that he may die or be killed before they can raise enough money for the fertility treatment.

According to reports, scientists are trying to tweak horse IVF to make the process work, as rhino IVF currently does not exist. Horses and rhinoceroses are related, so they may have similarities in their hormones and uterine environments. Zookeepers and veterinarians have therefore harvested sperm and eggs from the surviving northern white rhinos, and have already banked tissues from those that have died. At the San Diego Zoo, researchers are even testing methods to turn regular body cells into stem cells, which they then hope to coax into becoming sperm and egg cells.

If science manages to bring back this species from the brink of extinction, Sudan and his two girlfriends will make it into the annals of history. Finally, for everyone on Tinder, swiping right finally has a guaranteed happy ending.

Find out more by watching the video below:

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.

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