Posts Tagged With: Ol Pejeta

The Last Male on Earth

Imagine as a male being the last of your kind… you, 2 females, and a handful of other creatures surrounding you. This is the life of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino on the planet.

At the ripe age of 42, this old-timer is spending the last of his days at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. He is a calm and relaxed old rhino, who enjoys the company of Mohammed and Esagon, his keepers who care for him around the clock. He responds to their voices and their presence is extremely calming to him.

Mohammed and Esagon

Mohammed and Esagon with Sudan


His days are spent alternating between his own enclosure and a larger area with both Fatu and Najin, the two females. When in their presence, he seems to prefer time with Najin.

Where most white rhinos are munching on grass, this is not his favorite; as he prefers Lucerne  (alfalfa), carrots, bananas and pellets. And why not? As the one and only of his kind, shouldn’t he get his favorites?

His relaxation and comfort only waver with  an unfamiliar person’s scent in his presence or when he is startled, like being approached from behind. Like many animals, the unfamiliar agitates him.

sudan 1

Sudan munching on one of his lesser favorites-grass


These are his days; fed, secure, cared for until the end. But the end is coming too soon. And the end of Sudan symbolizes the extinction of the Northern White Rhinos.

2014 Oct: Suni, the male at Ol Pejeta died at 34.

2014 Dec: Angalifu, the male at SanDiego died at 44.

With both Najin (18) and Fatu (29) getting on in age, they too are living in an hourglass, the sands of time the only enemy that rivals a poacher.

The heartbreak and loneliness we feel for him…his fate making him unique; does he feel it? Does he on some level know he is different?

As Ol Pejeta states : There’s no way to truly ascertain this. But we try to the extent that is possible to ensure that he is not alone. He is always in the company of his keepers or his sister rhinos, Najin and Fatu.

Ol Pejeta is caring for these precious rhinos, as well as being the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Fight for Rhinos supports their efforts . To help, please donate to Fight for Rhinos or to Ol Pejeta’s Running for Rhinos campaign.

For more on the Northern Whites: Watching the Sun Set on a Species,  What Happened to the Northern Whites?







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Kenya’s Battle for their Rhino

KenyaWith only a thousand rhinos left in all of Kenya, preserving them is critical. The country has seen a loss of 100 rhinos over the last 3 years. But active strategies and a strong political will lend optimism to the plight of Kenya’s rhinos.

In response to the crisis, the environmental cabinet secretary Judi Wakhungu has said Kenya is developing regional wildlife enforcement strategies and networks both in the country and on a global level.

 “In order to combat wildlife crime, we have strengthened policies and legal frameworks, increased law enforcement capacity, and developed effective judicial systems,” said Wakhungu.

The rampant poaching seen across the country has prompted Nairobi to revise its laws to give stiffer penalties to convicted poachers and wildlife offenders.

In addition to the government’s stance, the private sector is also stepping up efforts.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, has announced “a step forward in saving Kenya’s rhino habitat”. The Mutara Conservancy, along the northern border of OPC, will add 20,000 acres of grassland and essential habitat to not only rhinos, but lions, giraffes, and the endangered wild dogs among others.

“As the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa we are rapidly reaching our carrying capacity. Consequently, in support of national objectives, we will need to secure new habitat in future as our rhino populations expand. We hope that in time the Mutara Conservancy can be used to supply these requirements,” said Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

1-Africa 2013 411

Black rhino @ Ol Pejeta by: Tisha Wardlow


Previously, in Sept, the internationally recognized Unesco World Heritage Site, Lewa Conservancy and neighboring Borana also announced a major merger between the two to benefit the black rhino population. Removing the fence separating the reserves creates 93,000 acres of jointly managed secure habitat.

What began as two cattle ranches now has become a prime sanctuary for rhinos.

In a statement from the conservancies: “With the fence removed, the Lewa-Borana landscape now readies itself to becoming a ‘key 1 population’ – a much sought after status that helps attract tourism revenues from across the globe once its rhino population tops 100, which is projected to occur in the next two years.”

white rhinos lewa by simon belcher

White rhino @ Lewa by: Simon Belcher


The Kenya Wildlife Service Director-General William Kiprono has said the number of animals killed by poachers had drastically gone down in recent years and the situation is set to get even better. This optimism is questioned by conservation groups who believe the poaching numbers are skewed.

WIlliam Kirpono

WIlliam Kiprono

But Kiprono said “Statistics show a decline in poaching cases since 2012 and there is a different trend contrary to what some lobby groups have been portraying.”



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Rhino Christmas Gifts

It’s almost that time of the year again…

Just in time for the holidays, Fight for Rhinos is once again offering our tee-shirts. For the rhino lover in your life (or a gift to yourself). This time available in three styles, 2 color options for each style.



Please go to : to order!

The sale is only available until November 12th to insure you receive your shirt before Christmas.

Your purchase will directly help us in our ongoing campaigns at Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Reserve Protection Agency (RPA). For more on these, please see “Donations at Work”

If you ordered one of our shirts previously, you know how soft and comfortable they are!

Mo and Marina tshirts


Chantel ffr tee

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What happened to the northern white rhinos


Suni. Photo: Jan Stejskal

With the death of Suni, the Northern White Rhino, the last chance for the species lies at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Najin and her daughter Fatu are currently housed with a male southern white rhino in hopes of producing a pregnancy in one of the cows.

The Northern White Rhino used to range over parts of  Eastern and Central Africa (Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the  Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of the Congo). In 1960, 2,000 northerns existed.

With only 3 left at Ol Pejeta, 2 in the US, and 1 in the Czech Republic, how did it come to this? Why has the Northern succumbed to poaching so much more quickly than their Southern cousins?

Nola enjoying treats at the San Diego Zoo in the US. Photo via SDZ

Nola enjoying treats at the San Diego Zoo in the US. Photo: SDZ

They have been poached just like all other species of rhino, but the difference being civil wars in both Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan have had a devastating impact. Poaching initially increased during this time of civil unrest in the 1990s.

Despite this, the population managed to hold until 2003. Then there was another upsurge in poaching, sending the population plummeting.

While the Northerns fell, the Southern White Rhinos grew, benefiting from a conservation strategy, mainly of translocation. Dr. Ian Player and a small group of men headed up efforts to move them out of harm’s way, establishing new populations throughout southern Africa. The main population of these rhinos are the majority who are now in Kruger National Park.

Luck? Happenstance? Either way, it stands that one species is on the brink of extinction, while the other remains just steps away.

northern whites by ami vitale

Northern White Rhinos in Ol Pejeta. Photo: Ami Vitale

In a comment from Ol Pejeta:

“The species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race.

“We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf.”




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World Cup Rhinos

Even the rhinos are getting caught up in the excitement of the World Cup!

Gertje playing soccer 2

Gertje at the Hoedspruit Centre.


Gertje playing soccer


baraka decides again

Baraka, the rhino ambassador at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, has been choosing the winning team (well sometimes).


baraka decides

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Plan B

Imagine being one of only four people left on the planet, the future of humanity in your hands. It’s up to you to make babies, re-populate, save your species. Pressure? You bet.

Sadly, this is the case for the only four Northern white rhinos on the planet. Sudan and Suni (the boys), and Najin and Fatu (the ladies) are the last of their species. Residing in Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy, it has been a hope they could produce a miracle. (see previous post: …And Then There Were Four)

Under 24 hour armed guard to protect them from poaching, they have been cared for and maintained to keep them healthy and happy. Despite all efforts at a suitable environment, there has been no success. Although Suni and Najin were seen mating in 2012, the 16 month gestation period came and went, and hopes were dashed.

four northerns 2The quartet is not getting younger, and time is of the essence. So the team of experts and conservationists have come up with  Plan B.

According to Ol’ Pejeta, this month a male southern white rhino will be introduced to the two northern white females, with the objective of getting them pregnant at the earliest opportunity.If this works, the hope is that the two females can produce several offspring through ‘intercrossing’ the subspecies.

Although this is not as ideal, this is the next best thing. They will hold the genes of the Northern whites, genes that helped that species survive and adapt to their environment. Any attempt at perpetuating the species is imperative at this point.

Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos are proud to support Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy. To help further their efforts, consider contributing to Fight for Rhinos at the link on the bottom or left of the page.

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Kenya or Bust

masai mara game driveMy trip to Kenya is fast approaching. . .

Travel vaccines – check

Itinerary – check

Spending money – working on it

But what I don’t have ready is my mindset. I know it will be what I imagine, and probably more. Yet, what’s on my mind, as it is everyday, is poaching. In a previous close encounter, a tour guide ran into just such an occurrence (see previous post Tour Guide Gives Eye-Opening Safari).

What would I do stumbling across poachers at work? I know it’s not common. Most of them are not so brazen. They prefer the cover of night, to slink through the darkness like the snakes they are. But it’s a haunting scenario none-the-less.

I do not fear for my safety, I fear the lack of power or control over stopping it. Even as the tour guide told his kifarustory, I  felt a surge of rage cloud my brain,  imagining myself  jumping out of the vehicle charging at the poachers. Logical?  Probably not.

But I can fully empathize with the feelings of helplessness and frustration the  tour guides, game rangers, and everyone working to protect the rhinos and elephants must feel on a daily basis.

Finding a poached carcass is bad enough. Knowing it happened, the animal suffered, the bad guy won..utter heartbreak. But catching them in the act?!

The trip agenda? Game drives, the Masai Mara, Ol’Pejeta, Samburu Reserve,  meeting new friends and LOTS of photos to share with you all when I get back.

Being on guided tours, things are well planned and prepared,  unlikely to turn into a full-scale wilderness adventure.  Yet on every trip there is  a smattering of the unforeseen. Who knows, if a poacher and I happen to cross paths…look out!

Because while, most of my friends’ daydreams consist of winning the lottery, mine is taking out poachers. ….. Rhino Girl…standing in the savanna, cape blowing back in the breeze, ready to swoop in and rescue the rhino from poachers lurking in the shadows!

ACPP44  Sign to deter poachers

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Yao Ming: Making a Difference

At 7ft, 6 in tall, Yao Ming is an intimidating figure, the tallest player in the NBA during his former career with the Houston Rockets. But this gentle giant is spending his time nowadays educating people on the crisis of elephant and rhino poaching.

As a goodwill ambassador to WildAid, he recently teamed up with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). They are launching a major public awareness campaign targeting the consumption of rhino horn and ivory, in China. With public service announcements stating “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

Yao Ming with one of the four remaining Northern White Rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Yao Ming with one of the four remaining Northern White Rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

According to WildAid.Org, in 2012  a Chinese research company did a study  on elephant poaching  finding that:

  •  More than half of the nearly 1,000 participants (over 50%) do not think elephant poaching is common;
  • 34%, or one in three respondents, believe ivory is obtained from natural elephant mortality;
  • Only 33% of all participants believe elephants are poached for their tusks; and
  • 94% of residents agree theChinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade

A similar survey was also done on rhino poaching:

  • 66% of all participants, that is two out of every three respondents, are not aware that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos;
  • Nearly 50% believed rhino horn can be legally purchased from official stores; and
  • 95% of residents agree the “Chinese government should take stricter action to prevent use of rhino horns.”

Being an animal lover and inspired by Jackie Chan, the Chinese basketball sensation has made raising awareness a top priority. He is a goodwill ambassador and a promising connection between the poaching crisis of Africa and the demand of the Chinese people.

Yao Ming is followed by Kinango, a 2-week-old orphaned elephant whose mother was poached for her ivory, at Daphne Sheldrick's orphanage.

Yao Ming is followed by Kinango, a 2-week-old orphaned elephant whose mother was poached for her ivory, at Daphne Sheldrick’s orphanage.

According to Ming, “The most effective thing you can do to counter this kind of situation is raise people’s awareness. Eliminate the demand for rhino horn and ivory right at the source. That’s what I want to do. It might take some time, sure, but I’m really hoping that gradually we can start to see an improvement.”

“Poaching threatens livelihoods, education, and development in parts of Africa due to the insecurity it brings and loss of tourism revenue. No one who sees the results firsthand, as I did, would buy ivory or rhino horn. I believe when people in China know what’s happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products.”

Ming’s previous campaign to educate the Chinese on the demand of shark fins,  is credited with a reduction of 50 – 70% in consumption of shark fin in China in 2012. We can only hope his current drive to eliminate the demand for horn and tusk is just as effective.

Yao Mings PSA:

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…And Then There Were Four

armed guard rhinos

Ol Pejeta-Like rockstars of the conservancy, the Northern White Rhinos live surrounded by 24 hour bodyguards watching their every move. The four rhinos have an extraordinary relationship with the team of armed guards who lean on them, scratch them, and display affection for them.

But the extreme desperate truth is that thanks to poaching,  these are the last 4 Northern White Rhinos left on the planet.  There are two males; 37-year-old Sudan and 31-year-old Suni and two females; 22-year-old Najin and her daughter 13-year-old Fatu.

The rhinos were moved to Ol Pejeta as a final chance. It is the hope that the natural environment of the reservation will activate hormones in the two females, encouraging breeding attempts.  Recently Najin and Suni were seen mating, which needless to say is remarkable news. The entire survival of their kind rests on them-the situation could not possibly be more urgent or tragic.

The White Rhinos are divided into two sub-species; the northern (the four at the conservancy) and the southern. There are approximately 14,000 of the southern species left.

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