Last Remaining Rhino Finds Equine Friend
It must feel incredibly lonely to be the last of a species! Sudan, who resides at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is the last male northern white rhino on the planet. He is extremely elderly and would be all on his lonesome were it not for his new pal Njema.
Njema is an eight-year old gelding and one of several horses who share Sudan’s enclosure. The horse has formed a bond with the rhino and so has improved life for the old fellow who is 43-years old, the equivalent of 95 in human years.
The is also home to two remaining female northern white rhinos but they cannot be kept with Sudan due to his frailty. So Njema has stepped into the breach and provides good company for the otherwise lonely rhino. This may seem like an unlikely partnership but rhinos and horses are actually quite closely related. Nonetheless there are no other documented cases of friendships of this nature. The horses at the conservancy haven’t showed any interest in befriending and other species.
The conservancy have a group of horses used for safari. Njema is part of the group of horses that take visitors on wilderness rides to view the endangered species. He was originally to become a safari horse in the Serengeti but was also a promising eventer. He moved to Kenya and now spends some of his time eventing and the rest trekking into the Ol Pejeta endangered species enclosure. This enclosure features Grevy’s Zebras, Jackson’s Hartebeest and the last two female northern white rhinos.
It was Njema’s groom, Samson, who has cared for him and competed with him in Kenya, who realised that Sudan and Njema were forming a relationship. Sudan kept coming up to Njema’s stable to investigate. The lonely rhino recently had the honour of gaining enough votes to become "most eligible bachelor" on the dating app Tinder!
Saving a Species
The conservancy will attempt to save the northern white rhino via IVF. The two remaining females have not been able to conceive naturally. They hope they can remove the rhino's eggs, fertilise them with frozen sperm and then implant them into surrogate rhinos. There is currently a campaign up and running to raise money to fund a breeding programme.