A ranger takes care of Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County in Kenya on May 3, 2017. Sudan died after "age-related complications," researchers announced March 20, 2018, saying he "stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength." (AP Photo)

The last male rhino of its kind dies. African religious leaders call it a spiritual loss.

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — Religious leaders who campaign for wildlife conservation are mourning the death of the world’s last male northern white rhino, calling the subspecies' likely extinction a spiritual loss.

“We are staring at the extinction of the animal type, under our watch. I think it’s a spiritual matter," said the Rev. Charles Odira, a Roman Catholic conservationist priest from Kenya, where the rhino lived.

"I feel as if we have neglected our duty as stewards of creation and should have done more for this species.”

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The 45-year-old rhino – named Sudan – was euthanized Monday (March 19) after suffering an infection and serious complications due to his advanced age. He was kept under armed guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, north of Nairobi, and left behind two female white rhinos  — a daughter and granddaughter.

The two offspring have health problems that mean neither can likely carry a pregnancy to term, and that they will likely die as the last of their kind.

The Rev. Charles Odira, a Roman Catholic priest, campaigns for wildlife conservation. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Sheikh Ole Naado, deputy general secretary of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, urged wildlife conservationists to take the lessons from the death of Sudan.

“It is a kind of warning that others are taking a similar path. It could be telling us that something bigger is happening — like the possible extinction of a community," said Ole Naado, referring to the Maasai tribe to which he belongs and whose lands bridge Kenya and Tanzania.

Many Maasai fear encroaching government and commercial interests and the effects of global warming will compromise or obliterate their traditional way of life. But they themselves understand that they must co-exist with wildlife, said Ole Naado.

As religious leaders preach protection of the natural world, some spiritual beliefs are also part of the problem.

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Many people in Asia believe that various body parts of rhinos, elephants and other endangered animals possess healing powers or bring luck. Poachers — driven partly by this demand — continue to hunt these species relentlessly.

While a few northern white rhinos roamed Africa wild in the 1960s, by 2008, they lived only in zoos around the world.

Campaigns against the use of elephants' ivory tusks for carving religious objects in Asia have met with some success, but the demand for rhino is still high. In countries such as  Vietnam, a belief that rhino horn cures hangovers and cancer is widespread.

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“Religious demand for wildlife products in parts of Asia has been a problem. We have talked to religious leaders in the region about how this is killing our wildlife,” said Odira.

“We believe God cannot commission the death of species that he had brought to life,” the priest added.


  1. Such a shame what has been done to animals, such as this one, by poachers and others who kill them for monetary gain or to hang on a wall!! ????

  2. “You’re [White people] on the endangered list. And unlike, say, the bald eagle or some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth saving. In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won’t be any more white people around.”

    Tim Wise, “anti-racist” activist

  3. You keep such adorable company, Roy. You should be proud.

    “The Jews are the bane of mankind. If the Jews will be allowed to do as they will, like they are permitted in their Soviet heaven, then they will fulfill their most insane plans. And thus Russia became the center to the world’s illness … if for any reason, one nation would endure the existence of a single Jewish family, that family would eventually become the center of a new plot. If there are no more Jews in Europe, nothing will hold the unification of the European nations … this sort of people cannot be integrated in the social order or into an organized nation. They are parasites on the body of a healthy society, that live off of expulsion of decent people. One cannot expect them to fit into a state that requires order and discipline. There is only one thing to be done with them: To exterminate them. The state holds this right since, while precious men die on the battlefront, it would be nothing less than criminal to spare these bastards. They must be expelled, or – if they pose no threat to the public – to be imprisoned inside concentration camps and never be released.”

  4. Funny how you can turn Tim Wise’s words around to somehow imply “he is in my camp”. But that is what you do.

  5. Congrats. You missed my point entirely. Good for you.

  6. Jewish Deflection.
    Like deflecting from Rabbi Steven Wise when he said, “Some call it Marxism, I call it Judaism”.
    Some rogue rabbi……………..Like Barbara Lerner Spectre. Just a rogue jew.

  7. Congrats. you are STILL missing my point.
    BTW, did you recognize the quote?

  8. You know what I find truly amazing, Roy?
    That it is the liberals who are calling out the anti-humans on these pages. Not the Uber Christians. (Did you see what I did)?
    Not Sandimonious, not Bobby Joe or Joe Bob (which ever one of the two is writing today), not floydlee, not Shawnie, not JP, not Bruce whatshisname, not Michael W, not son of socrates. And those are just the ones I have no positive feelings towards.
    Not one of them has a thing to say about the kind of garbage you promote.

  9. While Sudan, the last surviving white rhino is no more, it is a great loss for the world. But except for perhaps this one Roman Catholic priest, there seems to be no other religious leaders in the world (particularly among Protestants) to spread the message of protecting our planet and all the living creatures that God put on it. All the hypocritical evangelicals in America for instance, could do is to tell the mythical story of Noah by building an Ark as per the guidelines of Ken Ham and the Biblical account. No one visits this monstrosity any more.They have wasted billions of dollars in building this Ark. The money could have been given to conservationist NGO’s instead to protect wildlife. As per the latest reports, hardly any people (particularly scientists and other intelligent people) visit this Ark. Only the gullible white evangelicals get duped. Why doesn’t Trump who became a so-called ‘born again Christian for political convenience in order to get support of the evangelical base reprimand his two sons as well as other gun -loving hunters in America to stop going to Africa (and their own backyard) and stop shooting innocent and the voiceless creatures of God? Trump wastes a lot of time in twittering about his nonsensical policies. He’s withdrawn the nation from the United Nations’ Climate Change pact and he and his colleagues, as well as another dunderhead colleague has taken away all the EPA powers with so many scientists leaving the organisation. Evangelical preachers and evangelical worshipers are keeping silent on the issue of environmental protection, animal rights and protection of wildlife in America and the world. How hypocritical are these people? They are in no way spiritual at all.

  10. There is no spirit. The animal is just dead matter now.

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