Najin and Fatu are the last remaining northern white rhinos in the world. They live in a 700-acre 24-hour armed secure enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. They are both females.
The northern white rhino is a subspecies of white rhino, which used to range over parts of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Years of widespread poaching and civil war in their home range have devastated northern white rhino populations, and they are now considered to be extinct in the wild.
The loss of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, in March 2018 was a bitter blow. With Sudan’s passing, the future of the subspecies moved to development of in vitro fertilisation techniques and stem cell technology, costly and complicated procedures that have never before been attempted in rhinos.
Decline of Northern Whites
Numbers in the wild plummeted due to widescale poaching, from an estimated 2000 northern whites in the 1960s to just 15 by 1984. By 2009 there were only seven northern whites in captivity, including Sudan who moved to Ol Pejeta with another younger male Suni, his daughter Najin and grand-daughter Fatu as part of the ‘Last Chance to Survive’ project. Breeding was unsuccessful at Ol Pejeta and Suni sadly passed away in 2014.
The impact of the global pandemic on Ol Pejeta has been catatrosphic. As well as being home to 13,000 species (including many rare species) and a haven for Najin and Fatu, it is also the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Many members of the local communities also rely on the conservancy, to provide for their families. With fewer tourists, job opportunities are limited, and income has been decimated.
21 For 21 will support the anti poaching canine unit specifically – this unit plays an important role in the protection of Ol Pejeta’s rhinos and other rare species.
Images: Ol Pejeta and EAE