What happened to the Northern white rhino?

5th April 2022

What Happened to the Northern White Rhino?

Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the Laikipia region of Kenya is overlooked by many due to the headlines that the Masai Mara grabs. However this pocket of Kenyan wilderness is the only place on Earth where you can see the last remaining Northern white rhinos. There are a handful of bush camp options including Asilia’s Ol Pejeta Bushcamp and Kicheche’s Laikipia which offer a wonderful all round safari experience. Most notably though is that you can be certain your stay will contribute to the efforts of saving this beautiful species.

What happened to the Northern white rhino?

© Asilia

Courtesy of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy we explore the history of the Northern white rhino:

  • 1970s – 1980s The poaching crisis wiped out the population in Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad, mostly fuelled by the demand for rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • 1975 Two males and four females were transported to Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic to help conserve the species.
  • 1990s – 2000s The last known remaining wild population succumbed to fighting in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • 2008 The species was widely considered to be extinct in the wild.
  • 2009 The ‘final four’ fertile northern white rhinos were moved from Dvůr Králové Zoo to Ol Pejeta Conservancy. It was hoped that they would breed naturally.
  • 2014 Suni died and vets confirmed that neither Najin or Fatu are able to breed successfully.
  • 2018 Sudan, ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’ died.
  • 2019 Using eggs collected from the two remaining females and frozen sperm from deceased males, scientists successfully created two northern white rhino embryos.
  • 2021 Najin, Sudan’s daughter, is retired from the breeding program due to health complications.
  • 2022 To date, scientists have developed 14 purely northern white rhino embryos. The next stage is to introduce one of these embryos into a southern white rhino surrogate, in a move that could save this species from extinction.