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All-but-extinct northern white rhino are mating

17/02/2011 10:05:03
Are there any issues with starting up a population from just four individuals?With careful conservation management, small rhino populations are able to reproduce at over 10% per annum, and recover from very small to large healthy populations. This was achieved with the southern white rhino in Africa, where number recovered from less then 50 animals to the current total of over 18,000 animals. There are inbreeding issues with such small numbers (e.g. < 4), particularly if any of the animals are related. For this reason, the conservation strategy for the translocated northern white rhino in Kenya will include intercrossing with southern white rhinos at Ol Pejeta, in order to maximise breeding opportunities and propagation of the northern gene pool within the white rhino population.     

Northern white rhinos transported from a Czech zoo.

February 2011: Just a year after relocating four Northern white rhinos from a zoo in the Czech Republic to Kenya, they are now mating.

LOVING LIFE: Fatu - who is settling into his new
life in Kenya so well he now has a mate

The move from captivity back to the wild - under the protection of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy - is part of a final bid to save the Northern white from extinction.

The rhinos are four of just eight known Northern white rhinos, so hopes that they would settle comfortably into their new environment have been surpassed with the news that they are mating - offering a chance of survival for the sub-species.

The first mating was between Fatu and Suni, both former residents of Dvur Kralove Zoo. The second mating was Sudan - the oldest northern white male - with a southern white known as Aramiet.

‘To see the old boy has still "got it" is hugely encouraging and he also has his eye set on Taura, another one of the southern white females,' says a Conservancy spokesperson.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia district of Kenya and the largest sanctuary for black rhinos in East Africa.

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