Whitefish videographer documents efforts to save the northern white rhinoceros


Jeff Hyer’s recent trip to Kenya inspired him to tell the story of the Northern White Rhinos.

He attended the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where he had the opportunity to meet the last two northern white rhinos in the world – Najin and Fatu. Scientists live under guard to protect themselves from the threat of poachers and are working diligently to hopefully preserve the species as it nears extinction.

“I’ve been following their stories for years,” he said. “But I had the chance to meet the people who work with them and learn about conservation. It was an amazing experience. “

The Whitefish native said geographic boundaries divide the way different countries deal with protecting all rhinos, and poaching is a big problem. And since the two remaining white rhinos in the world are female, figuring out a way to keep the species alive is also a biological challenge in its own right.

“Saving rhinos sounds like a very simple idea,” he said. “But it’s very complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Byer. “I really loved analyzing this and being given the opportunity to interact with the people who are committed to nature conservation to learn more about it. I have developed from general knowledge to a much more advanced one and I want to communicate with people about it. ”

Four white rhinos were donated to Kenya by a zoo in the Czech Republic in the hope that staying in their natural habitat could help them reproduce. But the two males eventually died.

Conservation efforts now include the use of preserved sperm and eggs from the two females, neither of which can carry pregnancy, to create embryos and artificially fertilize southern white rhinos.

The story of the northern white rhinoceros involves the story of how there were only two what’s happening right now to preserve the species and then the future of what’s going to happen, Byer said.

“We’re in the middle of the story right now,” he added.

Hyer, a recent University of Montana graduate who is currently a freelance videographer, has a passion for wildlife conservation.

Hyer’s early love for animals got him on Big Valley Radio to host Jungle Jack’s “Zooniacs,” a children’s radio show that focused on animal learning. The program, with his connection to zookeeper and wildlife personality Jack Hanna, traveled to zoos across the country to interview animal experts and learn about various creations.

Hyer said he was inspired by his early experiences, and now the ultimate goal is to find a job in nature documentary programming. He is currently working on adding experiences like the one in Kenya to his portfolio.

“Working in multimedia and conservation is my greatest passion,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic gave Hyer the opportunity to travel to Kenya. This not only significantly reduced travel costs, but also gave him the opportunity to get to know the rhinos and animal welfare officers more personally and to meet the animals in person.

“Those were the most exciting weeks,” he said. “It was very worth it. I came as a tourist, but then I left with something special. ”

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