Jojo Goes Wild in New York

Ol Pejeta rhino caregiver Joseph 'JoJo' Wachira is using his newfound global profile to continue advocating for the rhinos he loves. JoJo is one of the caregivers featured in the multi award-winning documentary ‘KIFARU’, which has been touring the world to critical acclaim. At many of the screenings, Jojo himself has been in attendance to give live Q&As and talks about the plight facing Africa’s rhinos.

Last month, Jojo headed to New York to attend New York WILD -  an annual festival founded by Nancy Rosenthal that uses film to engage New Yorkers in exploration, conservation, and environmental advocacy. Recognising the importance of having a Kenyan voice on the stage, Kenya Airways generously offered to cover all his travel expenses to New York.

About 200 people were in attendance on the opening evening, during which KIFARU was shown. Following the lives of Jojo and his colleague James as they care for Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the world, during his final years of life, KIFARU had a profound effect on much of the audience.

“A most incredible heartwarming evening” said one guest after the evening, “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have attended.”

Jojo was joined on stage by friend of Ol Pejeta and National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale, and Kifaru’s director David Hambridge to host a Q&A afterward.

Ami’s journey with the northern white rhinos started over ten years ago when she documented their translocation from the Czech Republic to Ol Pejeta, and she has been there for all the highs and lows ever since, helping to raise awareness and support for northern white rhino conservation efforts. 

In attendance were representatives from the Wildlife Conservation Society, a founding sponsor of the festival, and Natalie Cash who is on the NewYork WILD advisory board and jury, as well as various filmmakers and education partners.  

“It was one of the most moving evenings of my 7 years producing NY WILD” said Nancy Rosenthal, founder and executive director of the festival. “It was incredibly rewarding seeing the impact the program had on the audience — you could feel the tension and sadness in the theater.”

A big thank you to Nikon who gifted Jojo a new camera. You don’t need to spend much time on his Instagram account to see how much Jojo loves photography, and how much his social media helps document and raise awareness about wildlife conservation.