Meet Najin and Fatu – the last of the northern white rhinos – as well as the scientists, conservationists, and rangers who are fighting for the species' survival.
The last two remaining northern white rhinos, an already functionally extinct species, are kept behind three electrical fences and protected by a squad of rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Their names are Najin and Fatu. Both are descended from the last male northern white rhino, Sudan. Najin is his daughter, while Fatu is his granddaughter. Along with Sudan and another male named Suni, they were transferred to Kenya in 2009, in the hope that returning them to their natural habitat might help them regain their zest for life and reproduction. Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan.
With the deaths of Sudan and Suni, the northern white rhinos' destiny is now in the hands of their Kenyan caretakers and a team of scientists at the BioRescue international consortium, which is developing and using several different techniques to resurrect the species, including assisted reproduction and stem cell research. The plan is to insert northern white rhino embryos into southern white rhino surrogate mothers as soon as possible. There is a real chance the first "new" northern white rhino baby will be born in late 2023.
Will science prevail, or is it too late? Journalists Boštjan and Maja Videmšek explore this question by taking readers on a journey through the history of the northern white rhinos. They introduce the rangers, conservationists, and scientists fighting for the future of the northern white rhinos and dissect what led the species to the brink of extinction, from wars and climate change to poaching and the black market. The Last Two offers hope for the future of the environment and the fight to save the many species that call Earth home.
Introduction: Waiting for a Color Postcard
Chapter One: The Rhinocide
Chapter Two: An Evening at the Rhino Cemetery
Chapter Three: Poaching: A Long Genocidal Chain
Chapter Four: God’s Particle in Human Hands
Chapter Five: Creating Life
Chapter Six: The Girls Speak Czech
Chapter Seven: What Can Be Sacrificed in the Name of Saving a Species
Chapter Eight: Resurrecting the Elephants in Samburu
Chapter Nine: The Front Line
Chapter Ten: Life after Life
About the Authors
Boštjan Videmšek is a long-term war correspondent who has covered all major conflicts in the last 25 years including, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. During the last five years, he has focused his work on the consequences of climate change. His work has been published by the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Stern, Boston Globe, CNN, BBC, National Geographic, Forbes, Vice, Sierra Magazine, Politico, and more. Videmšek is the author of seven books including Plan B: How Not to Lose Hope in the Times of Climate Crisis. Videmšek is also the author of two theatre plays and an ultra-marathon runner. He has been chosen as one of the European Young Leaders. He resides in Slovenia.
Maja Prijatelj Videmšek is a leading Slovenian environmental journalist, focusing on food, animal rights, waste management, renewable energy, and endangered species. She writes for the biggest Slovenian daily DELO. Her work has been published by many international media outlets, including the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic China, Das Magazin, Haaretz, Hindu Times, and more. She resides in Slovenia.
"Boštjan Videmšek and Maja Prijatelj Videmšek have written a majestic, stirring account of the last two Northern White Rhinos left in the world. The story of the ravages of humankind's toll on innocent creatures who have fallen prey to poachers, conflict, and climate change, The Last Two is also an inspiring tale of the best of which our species is capable. From the conservationists in Kenya who care for the mother and daughter rhinos, Najin and Fatu, to the scientists in Italy, Germany, and Japan who are racing against time and daunting odds to snatch the rhinos from extinction's terrible grasp. Written with urgency and empathy and illustrated with stirring photos by Matjaž Krivic, The Last Two is at once a chronicle of disaster and hope."
– Kelly Horan, The Boston Globe
"Videmšek and Prijatelj are two of the world's leading investigative journalists, with decades of experience in the field and numerous awards between them. They have often covered wars and conflict zones in the past, and this book combines their interest in the environment with their significant chops as war reporters. The Last Two is a hugely important book for anyone interested in the environment and saving endangered species from extinction, too often at the hands of humans. This is where conflict zone meets ecology. Thankfully, though there is much darkness, this is ultimately a beautiful story of hope in saving one of the Earth's most magnificent creatures."
– Noah Charney, PhD, best-selling author of The 12-Hour Art Expert