New book offers insight into efforts to save northern white rhinos

Ljubljana – A journalist couple, Boštjan Videmšek and Maja Prijatelj Videmšek, got involved in efforts to save the northern white rhino together with photographer Matjaž Krivec. Their book Zadnji Dve: Najin in Fatu (Last Two: Najin and Fatu) sheds light on the life of the last two northern white rhinos, mother Najin and her daughter Fatu.

The white rhino is on the verge of extinction due to poaching, war, the global illegal wildlife trade, as well as geopolitics and climate change.

The Last Two: Najin And Fatu is a story about scientists’ efforts to preserve endangered species. The white rhino natural offspring is no longer possible as the last male died in 2018, so the BioRescue international consortium, established in 2015, is focusing on IVF and stem-cell procedures in efforts to preserve the species.

Since neither Najin nor Fatu are capable of becoming pregnant, the scientists decided to use surrogate mothers of a related species of southern white rhinos. The first transfers of embryos should happen this year or in 2023. If the procedure succeeds, a functionally distinct species will be saved.

The white rhinos, currently living in the Ol Pejeta wildlife sanctuary, are the epitome of human wrongdoings and environmental disasters but their story still gives hope for redemption, says Videmšek, a long-time correspondent for Delo and many foreign media. This is his seventh book. It came out with the publisher UMco.

Currently, some 16,000 species are qualified as endangered worldwide, and despite global efforts by scientists their future remains uncertain. Technology is not enough to save them, the whole of humanity will have to change its way of living, warns Maja Prijatelj Videmšek.