World Rhino Day: Featuring Kenya’s RhinosSeptember 22, 2019
This World Rhino Day, we journey to East Africa to find out about the status of Kenya’s rhino population as well as the various organisations working to keep this magnificent yet incredibly vulnerable species alive.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are about 1 000 rhinos found across Kenya’s national parks, wildlife reserves and private conservancies. Two-thirds of these are the critically endangered black rhinos, which is the rarer of Africa’s two rhino species, with just 5 000 left in the wild, compared to around 20 000 white rhinos.
It was around 2013, when the Zimbabwean and South African rhino poaching crisis spread to other countries in Africa. Kenya was the first country to be hit really hard as poachers moved into East Africa and killed 59 rhinos in Kenya, which was more than 5% of its national population.
Rhino poaching across Africa is driven by the increased demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is seen as a symbol of wealth and status. Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is run by organised criminal networks that use sophisticated equipment, including helicopters and deadly weapons.
In the fight against this devastating illegal activity, the Kenya Wildlife Service collaborates with and gains critical support from wildlife conservation organisations such as the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Borana Conservancy in Laikipia County, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Isiolo County and Olderkesi Conservancy in southern Maasai Mara.
It is important to know where exactly the rhinos are, how they are breeding and what new approaches can be taken to improve protection. That is why rangers on the frontlines of rhino protection need to be highly trained and equipped with the necessary monitoring and tracking devices, aerial and ground transport, and weapons, to be used as a last resort.
Another key aspect is the involvement of neighbouring communities to understand the significance and experience the benefits of rhino conservation. This goes hand in hand with educating the broader population in countries where rhinos are found as well as those countries where consumer demand for rhino horn is the greatest.
We can’t imagine an Africa without rhinos, can you? The great news for those interested in going on a Kenyan safari, a portion of the fees paid to enter the country’s parks and conservancy are used to support rhino conservation efforts on the ground in a meaningful and tangible way.
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