Henry Bird, a prominent Times journalist, newsletter editor, and environmental writer has worked to showcase the dangers of climate change, the importance of clean energy, and the need for wildlife conservation. Bird recently sat down with Ami Vitale, founder of Vital Impacts, to discuss her film Remembering Sudan. In his article titled "Losing the northern white rhino: ‘It felt like the demise of humanity,'" Bird highlighted the film’s story and the current efforts being made to revive the northern white rhino species.
Through the lens of Vitale and lead caretaker at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy Zacharia Mutai, the article provides an account of the final days of Sudan, the last male of the northern white rhino species. Bird details the devastating consequences of human-induced factors such as poaching and habitat loss, emphasizing the urgent need for global conservation efforts. Despite the heartbreaking loss of Sudan, hope persists as scientists and conservationists work towards utilizing assisted reproductive technologies to potentially revive the Northern White Rhino population, with 24 viable embryos successfully created.
When speaking to Bird, Vitale explained that in making a film like Remembering Sudan, “You have to be so careful when documenting people’s lives, and you have to really think about making people relive their trauma.” She knew that taking photographs and videos of someone was deeply personal, citing certain indigenous cultures’ belief that taking a photo of someone was like “stealing a soul.” But, knowing that the lives of caretakers like Zacharia Mutai and the last rhinos of the species were incredibly intertwined, Vitale felt that “He should be the one telling the rhinos’ story.”
Despite the sadness Mutai felt when reflecting on the loss of Sudan, he wanted to advocate for future conservation and shine a light on human-caused threats to wildlife. “When I hang out with people I’m very quiet,” he says. “But if it reaches a point where I can speak out about white rhinos, I am courageous enough.” Remembering Sudan: The Last Male Northern White Rhino focuses on bringing people closer to the natural world and its endangered inhabitants, but also on highlighting who Vitale believes are the “real heroes in this story,” - passionate advocates for conservation like Zacharia Mutai.
To read the full article, please visit The Times