Gretchen recently visited the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the Laikipia area of Kenya. The conservancy itself is East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary, with 84 resident black rhinos. It is also a sanctuary for 11 southern white rhinos, and hosts a protected area with four of the seven remaining northern white rhinos on Earth. It’s the latter that are the focus of a breeding project. One of the many activities on offer is visiting these incredibly endangered rhinos in their guarded sanctuary. Our friends at the sanctuary shared this recent update with us.
Rhinos Suni, Fatu and Najin were sharing an enclosure while Sudan had five southern white rhino females for company in his big enclosure. This all changed recently when they were moved as part of the ongoing strategy to encourage natural breeding among the northern white rhinos on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
On Wednesday, October 26th, Najin and Fatu were coaxed by the keepers out of their boma into Sudan’s 700-acre enclosure. Najin didn’t need to be persuaded for long and she moved out quickly. Fatu, on the other hand, was hesitant to leave the comfort of her boma, but eventually followed her mother out into the big enclosure. The girls seemed to enjoy the vast open spaces and spent a lot of time roaming their new surroundings. However, after a while it became clear that Najin was extremely protective of her daughter and was getting in the way of Sudan’s advances towards Fatu. The team decided to move Najin back to the small enclosure and to give Fatu and Sudan a chance to get closer.
Two weeks later, on November 8th, Najin was moved back into her old boma to reunite with Suni. Walking her back wasn’t as easy as walking her out had been. It took a lot of persuasion to finally get her to start walking back towards the bomas thanks to patient caregivers.
Suni seems happy to have some company and is showing great interest in Najin. He makes loud grunting noises whenever she is nearby and we are hopeful they will mate soon.
So far Fatu and Sudan have not yet shown any interest in each other. Fatu is shy and tends to stay away from the group especially the southern white females but we are sure it is just a matter of time before she settles down and gets close to Sudan and the other females.
It is hoped the Fatu-Sudan and Najin-Suni pairs will have some proper chemistry. And that chemistry will lead to successful mating, increasing the breeding changes for our northern white rhinos.
We’ll keep you posted on the successes of the breeding program. If you’d like to visit Ol Pejeta, our Kenya Value Safari is an amazing way to do so. Or you can call us and we’ll craft a custom safari for you. Also, stay tuned to the blog for Gretchen’s trip reports and get the skinny on all the activities on offer in Ol Pejeta Conservancy!
Report courtesy Ol Pejeta Conservancy