Ol Pejeta

Jack Davison and the last two Northern White Rhinos in the world

At the turn of the 20th century, half a million rhinoceros ambled across Africa and Asia. Brutal poaching, natural disasters and disease mean that today, around 27,000 remain in the wild. Its different species vary in numbers and fortune. While the Southern white sub-species recovered from near extinction in the early 1900s, there are only two Northern white rhinoceros left in this world – Najin & Fatu. 

The mother and daughter live in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, one of the largest rhinoceros sanctuaries that also rehabilitates animals rescued from the black market. They remain under 24-hour surveillance, cared for by keepers who guard them with their lives, armed with dogs, weapons, drones. Building on a story originally commission for the New York Times about the successful in-vitro fertilisation of the duo’s frozen eggs – potentially avoiding extinction catastrophe – photographer Jack Davison has published a book through Loose Joints that captures the pair’s powerful form and precarious future.

Davison’s deft hand and keen eye are in full effect, his recognisable chiaroscuro style – strong contrasts between light and dark first used in 16th century woodcuts – allowing each wrinkle to sing. This, according to the independent publishing house Loose Joints, is inextricably tied to the narrative itself: “Ol Pejeta is a story of contrasts: on the one hand, the deep tragedy of another species slipping away at the hands of mankind, and on the other, the hope and optimism presented by science and innovation to support and uplift the fragile natural world.”

The limited edition book, printed exclusively on leftover materials from other projects, will have a portion of its profits donated to both the work of Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Biorescue, the ambitious genetic project that may well lead to new beginnings.

All photography © Jack Davison 2021, courtesy of Loose Joints