A Day in the Life of a Northern White Rhino

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11 June 2013

It has been almost a year since we shared any news of the northern white rhinos. That’s because, since the last mating between Suni and Najin we haven’t had any out of the ordinary news to report. Rhino gestation period typically takes 16 to 18 months therefore we still cannot confirm a pregnancy. While we are hoping we will have some great news to share soon, we thought we’d share a day in the life of the northern white rhinos with you.

The four northern white rhinos on Ol Pejeta, Sudan, Suni, Najin and Fatu, all wake up to a stunning view of the sun rising over Mt. Kenya which is clearly visible from their 700-acre enclosure. At 39 years of age, Sudan is the oldest of the northern whites and shares an enclosure with six (6) other rhinos. Sudan is very active and spends his day roaming his enclosure grazing on the abundant and nutritious grass that characterizes Ol Pejeta pastures. He breaks every now and then to wallow in the water paddles or take naps under shaded trees when it gets too hot.

Sudan, Northern White Rhino Fatu, Northern White Rhino
Sudan is very active, spending his day roaming his 700-acre enclosure and grazing. Photo by Ed Barthorp.
Fatu loves spending time with the herds of Grevy’s zebra and Jackson's hartebeest found in the boma.


White rhinos rely largely on grass, eating about 60 to 80kgs a day. A rhino will spend 50% of the day feeding which is exactly what Sudan does. At 4pm, Sudan walks back to the enclosure entrance where his daily food ration of hay, lucerne, carrots and bananas are brought to him. The daily food ration is given to all the northern white rhinos to supplement their diet, make them stronger and increase their breeding potential.

Fatu, Sudan’s northern white female companion spends her day with the southern white females strolling through the enclosure grazing. She is a very curious rhino and will also spend time with the herds of Grevy’s zebra and Jackson's hartebeest found in the boma. At 4pm, she joins Sudan near the entrance to receive her portion of food.

In the adjacent enclosure, Suni and Najin also spend the day wandering, eating and resting under acacia tree shades. To cool off they will wallow in mud formed by a pool of water inside their enclosure. Adult male white rhinos tend to be solitary and as such Suni usually keeps to himself but he is very welcoming to Najin. After mating with Najin, he has only shown passing interest in the two southern white females in the enclosure but nothing has happened yet. The northern whites, like other rhino species, have an acute sense of hearing and at 4pm, just like their neighbours Sudan and Fatu, the two rhinos start heading back to their respective bomas for their meals as they are called by their caregiver. The man of the group, Suni, gets a huge helping of lucerne, hay, carrots and bananas while Najin gets a slightly smaller portion.

Najin and Suni, Northern White Rhinos Northern White Rhinos, Ol Pejeta
Najin(right) and Suni spend their day wandering, eating and resting under acacia tree shades in their enclosure.
Adult male rhinos tend to be solitary but Suni is very welcoming to Najin and they spend time together. Photo by Frank af Petersens.


After dinner, which lasts approximately two hours, the northern whites resume their walks around their well-secured habitat. Despite their bulky size rhinos are very active and can spend the entire night walking about. Visitors are welcome to the Conservancy to visit the endangered species boma - home to the northern white rhinos - and get up close and personal with the four animals. Contact us for more information.

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