from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE quadrupling of Kenya’s black rhino numbers to 966 over the past 40 years marks an amazing turnaround for these animals in the East African country.
Numbers have risen from 240 in 1984 thanks to heightened security and success in bringing poachers to justice.
Kenya now hosts the third-largest rhino population in Africa, after South Africa and Namibia.
Decades ago the black rhino was on the brink of extinction, but the rise of the population has been so rapid that experts say they are “overcrowding” their sanctuaries.
As a result, 21 of these animals will soon be moved to a new safe haven.
This month, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will translocate a mix of female and male eastern black rhinos to the Loisaba Conservancy, in the highlands of the central Laikipia county.
It will be the first time Loisaba has seen rhinos since poachers killed the last of the species there five decades ago.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be part of the reintroduction of rhinos to a landscape where they’ve been absent for 50 years,” said Tom Silvester, Chief Executive Officer of Loisaba.
“It means so much to us on Loisaba to see this iconic species come home again and it is a mark of Kenya’s conservation success,” he added.
Research shows Kenya needs 2 000 eastern black rhinos for the species to survive here in the face of threats to their survival, including climate change, disease, poaching and loss of habitat.
Kenya’s government has made a commitment to achieving this goal.
Laikipia has set aside around half of its 57 000 acres for the rhinos, securing this new sanctuary with security operation and low-profile fencing to allow free movement of all other wildlife species.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, The Elewana Collection and Space for Giants will support the translocation from Nairobi National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy by truck.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the protection, conservation and expansion of Kenya’s black rhino population,” Erastus Kanga, Director General, KWS, assured.
He said the success achieved in sustaining their numbers is a testament to the relentless pursuit of security measures against poaching and dedication to the principles outlined in the seventh edition of the Recovery and Action Plan for black rhinos in Kenya (2022- 2026).
“This strategic action of having 21 rhinos in Loisaba Conservancy aligns with our vision to establish viable habitats, fostering optimal conditions for rhinos to thrive,” Kanga said.
Kenya’s existing 16 sanctuaries are nearing maximum capacity, hence a need to create new ones.
– CAJ News