Last year, the death of the world’s last male northern white rhino Sudan at age 45 devastated the world. Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours before his death, was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal & the veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him.
Since his death, the discussions around wildlife extinction and conservation have heightened; and for the right reasons. The rate of wildlife being hunted down has both decreased and increased in certain areas. An example is in Kenya, where CS of Tourism Najib Balala announced that we lost over 400 elephants to drought.
50% of Africa's elephants were killed by the ivory trade between 1979-1989, according to @ste_kenya.
Today, at least 20,000 are killed every year — despite a ban on ivory sales. pic.twitter.com/52tbknhhxk
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 12, 2019
On the other side, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is constantly breaking barriers in the conservation of elephants, as seen from this post as they celebrated World Elephant Day.
Good news for the beloved species – elephant populations are increasing in Kenya due to a reduction in poaching. Today, we celebrate this conservation success!
— Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (@lewa_wildlife) August 12, 2019
In March this year, I had the privilege of traveling to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to see the first hand efforts of the rangers and conservationists against the terror that is poaching & in October 24th, Ol Pejeta Conservancywill be hosting a screening of the Kenya premiere of “Kifaru” at Trademark Hotel, Nairobi on Thursday, at 6:00PM.
“Kifaru” outlines the challenges of rhino conservation through the eyes of two Ol Pejeta rangers: James Mwenda and Joseph Wachira (Jojo). Mentored by the oldest member of the rhino unit, Jacob Anampiu, these two young men learn how to balance burning idealism with harsh realities.
“Filmed over the course of James and Jojo’s first four years on the job, Kifaru brings to light the heartbreak and determination that came with caretaking the ‘Ambassador of Extinction’ – the last northern white rhino male on the planet, Sudan. At the age of 45 Sudan was euthanized in March 2018 due to age-related issues, but not before inspiring hundreds of thousands to do more for rhino conservation” says Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s Managing Director.
Unfortunately, Sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta. The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.
Director David Hambridge said the film mirrors a perspective from which the tragic plight of the world’s most endangered species could be humanised, transcending cultural barriers to expose the mortifying truth of humans’ atrocities on nature:
“Great stories always contain universal truths, which often serve as the northstar for future decisions. While striving to expose these truths, I’ve always been interested in telling stories that transcend cultural barriers and invoke empathy that all corners of humanity can identify with. We believe the greatest weapon these caretakers have in this fight for an entire species are their stories. I believe viewers will finally get to feel extinction for the first time – and hopefully the last”, said Hambridge.
Since Sudan’s death, James and Jojo have travelled all over the world to share their stories, gathering support and raising awareness for the wildlife they have become so passionate about. Kifaru is a film that will spark a new era of conservationists, uniting people from all over the world in the fight for wildlife.