The Last Male On Earth

Sudan is the last male northern white rhino. He lives a life of relative luxury on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya, surrounded by people who think of him as a friend. This documentary counts down the last couple of years of his life, giving us time to reflect on what it really means to watch the last of a species to die. Technically I suppose we lose dozens of species each day, but few are as large, majestic, and noticeable as a rhinoceros.

Sudan is cared for by keepers of course, but also by round the clock armed bodyguards. His sanctuary is visited by journalists and by tourists eager to touch him while he’s still around. Everyone goes home with the same message: Sudan can’t speak for himself so you have to speak up on his behalf. It seems most who come in contact with him are awed by his presence, but awe is not enough to save his species.

Sudan passed in 2018, leaving just 2 female northern white rhinos behind, the species functionally extinct – but that doesn’t mean science is going to just drop it. Director Floor Van Der Meulen explores Sudan’s legacy and the surprising ways in which he may live on.

The featured interviews are of such breadth that you really get a sense of Sudan’s importance and what he symbolizes to so many. Extinction makes for a flashy story (and Sudan was even on Tinder as the world’s most eligible bachelor) but for every dash of hope there’s bushels and bushels of futility. If we can stand by and watch Sudan and his friends disappear, is nothing sacred?

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