All hope for saving the Northern white rhinos from extinction is resting squarely on the shoulders of the ‘Fab Four’ – Sudan, Suni, Najin, and Fatu.
Now that the Northern white rhinos have settled into their new home at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, experts hope they are in the mood for love – with Southern white rhinos.
The initial plans are to produce “hybrid” calves from breeding the Northern white rhinos with the Southern white rhinos.
Once sufficient numbers are reached, cross-breeding the hybrid rhinos back with the Northern white rhinos will take place.
Richard Vigne, CEO of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, has made it clear that they will be breeding hybrids for a while before sufficient numbers will then permit to cross them back towards nearly pure Northern White.
The four … are thought to be the last hope to ever restore a Northern White population, as the last herd in the wild was wiped out by Ugandan rebels in Eastern Congo, where an incompetent and arrogant minister some years ago halted the translocation from the Garamba National Park to Ol Pejeta at the last moment, condemning these rarest of rhinos to almost certain extinction.
The extraordinarily rare rhinos have been released from their bomas into the expansive – and well-guarded – area they are sharing with Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s Southern white rhinos.
Experts are confident that exposure to the wild Southern white rhinos will stimulate normal breeding behavior in the Northern white rhinos.
Top priority: Preserving Northern white rhino genes
Although a recent taxonomic reassessment indicates the Northern white rhino is actually a distinct species from the Southern white rhino, this finding has not appeared to have altered breeding plans. It is traditionally believed that the Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) and Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) are each a white rhino subspecies.
Whether or not the Northern white rhino is classified as a subspecies or distinct species, preserving the Northern white rhino genetic material in any way possible remains the top priority for rhino conservation experts.