This is the last male northern white rhino left on earth - and he needs armed guards to protect him
Images have been shared thousands of times as Kenyan conservation project strives to raise money to continue protecting the critically endangered species
The armed guards of the last male northern white rhino in the world have been overwhelmed by the response after images of them on duty went viral.
The photographs, retweeted and shared thousands of times across social media platforms, show the ‘Rhino Rangers’ guarding Sudan, the only male northern white rhino left on earth.
Armed rangers in Sudan guard the last male northern white rhino on earth. His species survived for 50 million years. pic.twitter.com/mIfpOA75fI— Julian Dutton (@JulianDutton1) April 11, 2015
Sudan belongs to the Ol Pejeta wildlife sanctuary in Kenya, a 90,000 acre space home to 105 black rhinos, 23 white rhinos and three of the last five remaining northern white rhinos.
The animals – among the rarest on the planet – are protected by the ‘Rhino Rangers’, an elite arm of the Kenyan rangers who guard the male and two females.
Organisers, writing on the GoFundMe campaign page, posted: “We're blown away by all your donations and messages of support!”
Although the campaign was started in February, viral attention has finally seen interest pick up with the campaign having raised just over £9,000.
The money is desperately needed to continue protecting the remaining rhinos.
Previously funding for the sanctuary was provided by Kenya’s lucrative tourism industry but Ebola and terrorist attacks - most recently on the university in Garissa - have severely curtailed this revenue.
The ‘Rhino Rangers’, as they have been affectionately dubbed, also do not come cheap.
Equipped with the latest equipment and training, the 40 rangers are drawn from the Kenya Police reservists and the money raised will pay these men – who risk their lives against poachers – for the next six months.
The protection of the remaining northern white rhinos in the sanctuary is crucially important as they are believed to be the only animals of their species capable of breeding.
In the 1960s there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos in the wild, but 20 years later only 15 animals remained owing to poaching, according to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).