BBC Science Focus, March 2023
It’s early morning in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and under a wide African sky, the last two northern white rhinos left on Earth go for a stroll. From time to time, they pause; tasselled ears twitching, as they lower their broad, flat muzzles to nibble the parched grass.
Later in the day, as the mercury rises, they will retire to a shady spot and have a siesta, watched over by the armed guards who protect them from poachers around the clock.
The rhinos’ names are Najin and Fatu, and they are mother and daughter. Neither can reproduce naturally, and even if they could, there are no males left for them to mate with. This makes the northern white rhino as good as gone, or, as scientists would call it, ‘functionally extinct.’ Najin and Fatu are ‘dead rhinos walking.’