AN AR APP DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF SUDAN, THE LAST MALE NORTHERN WHITE RHINO


The world is still in mourning after the death of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, on March 19, 2018. 45-year-old Sudan did an incredible work as a rhino conservation ambassador, highlighting the plight of rhino species around the world. His death leaves just two of his kind remaining on Earth – his daughter Najin and granddaughter Fatu.

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The Beginning

We had the honour to be part of the effort to spread the word and educate people about the alarming issue of this beautiful species permanently disappearing from earth while Sudan was still alive. After learning about The Last Three, Gillie & Marc’s fantastic initiative to raise awareness by building the world’s biggest rhino sculpture, we knew this was something we’d be keen to contribute to. Since our AR experiences have long been used in the conservation of animals with museums and zoos across the world, providing a unique, powerful narrative to the magnificent sculpture felt like a meaningful opportunity to carry this forward.

Although our team never had a chance to personally visit the last three at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Sudan, Najin and Fatu were present in our daily lives since day 1 of the project. Not only members of our content department – who had to closely study the animals so they can “recreate” them in 3D in the most realistic way possible – but the entire team learned a lot about the rhinos and their challenging situation. The emotional connection was inevitable.


The Launch

The world’s biggest rhino sculpture was successfully unveiled at Astor Place, New York City on March 15, 2018. Along with the 17-foot tall art installation, the AR application – allowing users to interact and take pictures with the animated life-sized versions Najin, Fatu and Sudan – was also officially launched.

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Seeing the sculpture and the AR rhinos around it at Astor Place justified our work aiming to magnify the awareness as far as we possibly can by allowing people to experience these special creatures first-hand. While the “real” Sudan was kept safe at the Conservancy, people enjoyed meeting his 3D twin at Astor Place, grazing just in front of the artwork dedicated to him and his family.

The Future – instead of “The End”

Just four days after the launch event, on March 19, 2018, Sudan had to be euthanised due to age-related complications. Needless to say, we were incredibly sad and speechless. At the same time, we were proud because we felt like we’ve done something significant to preserve Sudan’s legacy, and helped spotlight not only the fate of the rhinos, but a much bigger problem the world should be aware of, and take action on – the fact that extinction is forever.

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Rest in peace, Sudan.

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