Photograph by Ami Vitale, Nat Geo Image Collection
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A wildlife ranger comforts Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino on the planet, moments before he passed away.
Photograph by Ami Vitale, Nat Geo Image Collection

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Photo by @amivitale With a heavy heart, I share this news and hope that Sudan's legacy will awaken us to protect this magnificent and fragile planet. Yesterday, wildlife ranger Joseph Wachira, 26 comforted Sudan, the last living male Northern White Rhino left on this planet moments before he passed away. Sudan lived a long, healthy life at the conservancy after he was brought to Kenya from @safari_park_dvur_kralov in the #Czechrepublic in 2009. He died surrounded by people who loved him at @olpejeta 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. Thousands have trooped to Ol Pejeta to see him and he has helped raise awareness for rhino conservation. The two female northern white rhinos left on the planet are his direct descendants. 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. In 2009, I had the privilege of following this gentle hulking creature on his journey from the snowy Dvur Krulov 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 8 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. Follow @olpejeta and @amivitale to learn more what we can all do to #coexist. @natgeo @natgeocreative @olpejeta @kenyawildlifeservice @thephotosociety #SudanForever#WorthMoreAlive #OlPejetaRhinos #NorthernWhiteRhinos #protectrhinos #DontLetThemDisappear #rhinos #saverhinos #stoppoaching #kenya #northernkenya #africa #everydayafrica #photojournalism #amivitale #extinction

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Photograph by @florianschulzvisuals // Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to witness polar bear life at such close range when I set out to shoot the images that were published in my @natgeo story on polar bears. I looked at some of my notes I took when we followed this mother bear: “Over the course of the week, our polar bear mother (as we came to think of her) sometimes walked within twenty feet of the boat and simply lay down on the ice floe and fell asleep. But she did not stop there. After resting for a while, she sat up, took a look around, and invited the cubs to nurse. She fell into a kind of trancelike state, letting her head slowly sink down in exhaustion as her cubs drank. I can still clearly hear the suckling sounds in my mind and even noticed a purring from the cubs. It was an unforgettable sight: mother and cubs, nestled together on the ice in the warm late-evening light, with drifting sea ice leading to the horizon where it meets the edge of the Austfonna ice cap in Svalbard.” In late August polar bears are hanging on to the last of the drifting sea ice. To successfully raise her cubs, this mother needs the sea ice platform to hunt for seals. I was in awe. This bear completely trusted us. After taking the first pictures of this scene, I remember how I quickly rushed to the bow of the boat. I was not happy with the earlier framing of the image. I needed to photograph her straight from the front, to get the right symmetry in the composition to express this zen-like moment of this mother and her cubs at peace. Please follow me @florianschulzvisuals to see more images from the wild corners of this planet and hear about my experiences behind the lens. #polarbears #cubs #nursing #mothers #motherhood #arctic #climatechange #wildlifephotography #zen #babies #tranquility #bears #newlife #breastfeeding

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