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Photographing the Last Two Northern White Rhinos on Earth


In 2018, Sudan, the last remaining male northern white rhino passed away of natural causes at the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Laikipia County, Kenya thus signaling the end of the existence of their subspecies.

Not far from Sudan’s grave lives Fatu and Najin, mother and daughter rhinos that are the last known living northern white rhinos on the planet.

A loss of habitat and poaching of their valuable horns to be sold off in the black market for traditional eastern medicinal purposes bound for countries such as China, South Korea, and Vietnam has led to the demise of their species.

Fatu and Najin live in a large gated and protected area where they are free to roam and are monitored 24 hours a day by Ol Pejeta’s caretakers and armed NPR (National Police Reservists).

The caretakers feed and look after them along with educating visitors about their plight. The NPR patrols the 360-square-kilometer conservancy around the clock looking for signs of poachers. They patrol the bush throughout the night among wild and sometimes dangerous animals.

In 2018, they had an encounter with three poachers and a gunfight ensued, resulting in the death of all 3 poachers.

The protectors and caretakers all live in small bush camp within eyesight of Fatu and Najin. They live away from their families where they work 20 days on and 6 days off at the conservancy. They take tremendous pride and honor in their work and these heroes sacrifice so much for these animals. This is their story.

If you’d like to donate to Ol Pejeta and help support their amazing efforts for animal conservation, please click here.

P.S. This is part of a larger personal project highlighting people around the world doing amazing deeds for animal welfare and animal conservation. The project is self-funded and the images are open sourced to all organizations working in animal conservation to help promote their cause. The photos in this article were shot with just a 35mm and 75mm lens on a screenless Leica M10D.

About the author: Justin Mott is an award-winning editorial, travel, and commercial photographer and director based in Vietnam for over a decade. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Mott has shot over 100 assignments throughout Vietnam and Southeast Asia for the New York Times covering tragedy, travel, features, business, and historical moments. You can find more of his work on his website, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.