Val from Mpala here. There’s been tragic news from one of our neighbors, Ol Pejeta Conservancy. They have found Suni, a Northern White Rhino, dead in the bush. At least he had not been a victim of poaching. Suni was one of two breeding males left on the planet. Ol Pejeta is a leader in the desperate work to save these animals from extinction and Suni’s death brings them to the brink.
When we were gathering material on rhinos for www.mpalalive.org, Ol Pejeta opened its doors to us. Mpala does not have rhinos–one of the reasons being that we cannot afford to protect them. The animals are hunted mercilessly by poachers for their horns—which are used in Asia as a folk remedy and in the Middle East for handles on ceremonial daggers. The horn is made up of keratin, the same substance as your fingernails—which makes the senseless slaughter of these magnificent creatures all the more infuriating.
When I was on Ol Pejeta filming, one of the rangers offered me the special opportunity to touch Suni while he was grazing. It was an incredible feeling to connect with a creature that I knew was one of the last of its kind–awe-inspiring and indescribably poignant. Rest in peace, Suni.
(Special thanks Stephanie Siller of Mpala who took this spectacular picture of a white rhino.)