Kenya’s Rhino Conservation Triumph: The Resettlement of Black Rhinos at Loisaba Conservancy

The successful translocation of 21 eastern black rhinos to the Loisaba Conservancy, celebrated by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and partners, establishes a new breeding population in the country. Loisaba Conservancy, covering 58,000 acres, now encompasses a 104km² sanctuary ideal for rhinos, equipped with robust security measures and low-profile fencing to facilitate the movement of other species. The area’s ecological carrying capacity and habitat suitability have been rigorously assessed since 2019, with multi-disciplinary teams formed to manage reintroduction efforts.

Kenya, once home to 20,000 black rhinos, saw their numbers plummet due to poaching in the 1970s, prompting a decline to below 400 individuals by 1989. Since then, conservation efforts have facilitated a remarkable recovery, with an estimated 1,004 eastern black rhinos currently residing in Kenya, making it the third-ranking country for black rhinoceroses’ conservation after South Africa and Namibia. Kenya houses approximately 80% of the global population of the eastern subspecies, while the southern white rhino population has grown significantly to 971 individuals since the 1980s and 1990s.

The seamless translocation of black rhinos, a collaborative effort involving various partners such as The Nature Conservancy and San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, marks a significant milestone in Kenya’s rhino recovery action plan. Partnerships with communities and conservation organizations are vital for the successful protection and restoration of rhino populations.

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Kenya Wildlife Service Veterinarian Dr. Matthew Mutinda monitors a rhino at Lewa
Wildlife Conservancy as a helicopter herd it away from the team attending to a nearby
tranquilized rhino.

Tom Silvester, CEO of Loisaba Conservancy, commended the translocation team for their efforts in reintroducing black rhinos to the landscape after a 50-year absence. He emphasized the commitment to partnering with conservationists to further increase rhino numbers in Kenya.

Kenya’s involvement in saving the northern white rhino from extinction, with only two remaining females globally, underscores its critical role in global conservation efforts. The BioRescue project, a collaboration between local and international experts, aims to implant embryos into southern white rhino surrogate females to prevent the species’ extinction.

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Tranquilized Black Rhino

Dr. Erustus Kanga, Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service, expressed satisfaction with efforts to secure more space for black rhinos, highlighting the challenges of territorial fights and limited sanctuary space as significant factors affecting rhino mortality and reproduction rates.

Dr. Max Graham, CEO and Founder of Space for Giants, emphasized the significance of partnerships in restoring and protecting not only black rhinos populations but all rhinos, citing Loisaba’s reintroduction as a testament to effective conservation leadership and a source of hope for the future of these iconic species.

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