The first chapter of Kindred Guardians, Mott’s long-term series documenting people who devote their lives to conserving wildlife, No Man’s Land captures the poignant last act of the caretakers of Fatu and Nijan, the only two remaining white northern white rhinos on the planet. With no male northern white rhinos left, Fatu and Najin are all that stand in the way of extinction.
The northern white rhino, a subspecies of the white rhino, historically roamed across Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following widespread poaching and civil war in their homelands, they are now considered extinct in the wild. In 2009, Fatu and Najin and two males, Sudan and Suni, were transferred to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya from a zoo in the Czech Republic. The hope was that living in their native habitat would help the rhinos breed. In the years since arriving in Africa, the animals experienced a series of unsuccessful breading attempts and the devastating deaths of Suni (2014) and Sudan (2018).
Najin and Fatu live in 700-acre enclosure with 24-hour armed security. The caretakers who patrol Ol Pejeta Conservancy encounter lions and marauding poachers, the latter of which shot at the guardians in 2018 leading to a gunfight that left three poachers dead. The future of Najin and Fatu’s species now lies in the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques that have never been attempted on rhinos. Ol Pejeta Conservancy is in a race against time to raise 9 million USD towards their Make A Rhino initiative.
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