As far as we know, there’s only one male white rhino still alive on the planet — and his name is Sudan. In a bid to ensure his specie’s continued survival, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy group joined hands with Tinder to raise the money required for the ongoin conservation species.
Tinder may just have got its heaviest user ever. Starting today, users on the app will see Sudan’s profile pop up among their choice of potential dates. If you swipe right, you’ll get a message with a link to donate for a worthy cause: all the money will be used to fund ongoing research into Assisted Reproductive Techniques for the species.
“But why not do it the old fashioned way?” you might ask. “That’s the point of Tinder, right?”
Well, yes, but as it happens, 42-year old Sudan, who the app described as “the most eligible bachelor in the world”, currently lives under heavily armed guard at the conservancy in Kenya with two female rhinos, Najin and Fatu. They’ve been unable to breed for a number of reasons (especially old age), but not all is lost as there are 17,000 other potential females to do the deed. But they’re far away and capturing then shipping them to the conservancy is not only expensive, it’s also dangerous for the beasts.
And even if they get there, success is not guaranteed. So Ol Pejeta needs to raise US$9 million (8.2 million euros) to fund research into assisted reproductive techniques, which will be used to breed a herd of 10 northern white rhinos to stave off extinction. One technique named ovum pick-up, which has been developed on southern white rhinos, will be tailored to Sudan’s species and expanded on for this purpose. The team plans to collect eggs from the females Najin and Fatu, fertilize and re-implant them into surrogate females.
“This represents the last option to save the species after all previous breeding attempts proved futile,” said Ol Pejeta Conservancy CEO Richard Vigne. “Saving the northern white rhinos is critical if we are to, one day, reintroduce rhinos back into Central Africa.
“They contain unique genetic traits that confer upon them the ability to survive in this part of Africa. Ultimately, the aim will be to reintroduce a viable population of northern white rhino back into the wild which is where their true value will be realised”.
The research effort is already underway at various institutions in the US, Europe, and Japan. Right now, what the rhinos need is funding. So if you have some cash burning a hole in your poket take your smartphone and swipe, swipe, swipe for Sudan.
“Financial support remains the biggest challenge to this project. To win this run against time, it is crucial to find major funds as quickly as possible,” said Steven Seet, Head of press and communications at the Leibniz-IZW which is part of the research consortium.