‘Remembering Sudan’ is a Film About the Last Male Northern White Rhino

March 19 marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Sudan, the last known male northern white rhino on the planet. Photographer Ami Vitale’s film “Remembering Sudan” explores the efforts to bring the species back.

Ami Vitale has just launched the new short film “Remembering Sudan” which documents the heartbreaking crisis facing the northern white rhinos, and the incredible efforts to save them. 

Before he died, thousands made the journey to Ol Pejeta to see Sudan and he has helped raise awareness for rhino conservation. The two female northern white rhinos left on the planet are his direct descendants and research into new Assisted Reproductive Techniques for large mammals is underway due to him.

“The impact that this special animal has had on conservation is simply incredible. And there is still hope in the future that the subspecies might be restored through IVF,” Vitale says.

“In 2009, I had the privilege of following this gentle hulking creature on his journey from the snowy Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic to the warm plains of Kenya, when he was transported with three of his fellow Northern White Rhinos in a last ditch effort to save the subspecies. It was believed that the air, water, and food, not to mention room to roam, might stimulate them to breed and the offspring would then be used to repopulate Africa. At the time, there were eight northern white rhinos alive, all in zoos. Today, we are witnessing the extinction of a species that had survived for millions of years but could not survive mankind.”

Wildlife ranger Joseph Wachira comforts Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino left on the planet, moments before he passed away March 19, 2018 at Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. Sudan lived a long, healthy life at the conservancy after he was brought to Kenya from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009. He died surrounded by people who loved him at after suffering from age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. Sudan has been an inspirational figure for many across the world. | Photo by Ami Vitale

“With Sudan’s death, the northern white rhino is functionally extinct, but remarkably, all hope is not lost,” Vitale tells PetaPixel.

“Thanks to an international consortium of scientists known as the BioRescue Project, there are now 24 northern white rhino embryos that are ready to be transferred into surrogate southern white rhino females in the near future.”

Vitale says this will have profound implications for the other species of rhino that are also critically endangered and, further, could help the more than 42,000 animals that are currently threatened with extinction along with the more than 14,000 endangered animals on Earth.

The film can be viewed through RememberingSudan.org and all ticket sales go to supporting Ol Pejeta, which cares for Najin and Fatu, the last two northern white rhinos on the planet.

“What happens next is in all of our hands,” Vitale emplores.

“What’s going to save us all is to get beyond our routine ways of thinking. Wonder is what allows us to reimagine our future together. Wonder allows us to believe that we can fundamentally change the course we are currently on.  Our fate is linked to the fate of animals. Without rhinos and other wildlife, we suffer more than loss of ecosystem health. We suffer a loss of imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities.”