In the shadow of Mount Kenya lie the hot lowlands of Samburu-land. This vast, beautiful region of rocky ridges, acacia grasslands and doum palm forest is the traditional homeland of the Samburu people, the rare Grevys Zebra and the Gerenuk antelope. For thousands of years, it was also home to the black rhino, until the last one was poached 25 years ago.
But as from May 2015, black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) have once again roamed the plains of Samburu. Thanks to a relocation programme spearheaded by the Northern Rangelands Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), 10 black rhino from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Nakuru and Nairobi National Parks have been relocated to a 21,460 acre sanctuary within Samburu’s Sera Community Conservancy, with a plan to move more rhino to the area later in the year. The rhino are now thriving in the habitat they once roamed in thousands.
The black rhino has inhabited the earth for 5 million years, yet today is a critically endangered species. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, populations of the Eastern black rhino dropped by 98% between 1960 and 1995, mainly as a result of poaching. Today, rhino horn fetches approximately $65 – $70,000 per kg, which is more than the price of gold on the black market. It is an ugly business; poaching is an international environmental crime that has links to international drug, arms, and human trafficking syndicates. Interpol has referred to it as, “one that can affect a nation’s economy, security and even its existence”.
Over the past two decades, however, inspiring conservation projects in Kenya have ensured that the country’s population of black rhino has risen from 381 in 1987 to approximately 640 today. Wildlife conservancies such as Lewa have been instrumental in —> Read More