Groups push to grow rhino numbers

Rhinos at the Nairobi National Park, May 10, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Climate change, poaching and habitat loss have led to a reduction in the population of rhinos, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

IFAW and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) held celebrations to commemorate World Rhino Day last Friday with calls for concerted efforts to save the odd-toed animal.

In a statement, IFAW said the population of the herbivores had plummeted in the recent past. "Action needs to be taken so as not to lose them forever," read the IFAW statement.

According to IFAW, there is need for the masses to be sensitised about rhinos and threats the amazing animals face in order to protect them.

"Rhinos, especially the critically endangered black rhino in Africa and the Javan and Sumatran rhinos in Asia are in trouble. Poachers, habitat loss and encroachment among other human threats could drive rhinos to extinction within our life time," IFAW warned.

Black rhinos at Lewa Conservancy. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The organisation said it was working to protect rhinos through training of rangers to patrol in areas of wildlife conservation in Kenya and Zambia to protect them from poachers or providing rescue, rehabilitation and release back to the wild of orphaned and injured rhinos in India.

Meanwhile, KWS held countrywide celebrations to commemorate World Rhino Day, and also launched the Recovery and Action Plan for the Black Rhino at the Club House in Nairobi National Park last Friday.

Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza highlighted the milestones that Kenya has achieved in rhino conservation in the last three decades since the establishment of KWS in 1989.

She said there are 33 mammalian, 28 avian and 356 plant species in Kenya whose survival is threatened, with the black rhino being one of them. 

The main threats emanate from human activities including; climate change, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, poaching, illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict. 

“My ministry is fast-tracking clearance of the pending compensation claims and providing necessary support to the communities which bear the brunt of wildlife,” Malonza said. 

She noted that Kenya's wildlife and heritage are the main anchor to the tourism industry.