Kenya launches plan to boost black rhino population


Black Rhino known as Baraka at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kenya on Friday launched a strategic plan to boost the black rhino population in the country.

Peninah Malonza, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, told journalists in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that the seventh edition of the Recovery and Action Plan for the Black Rhinoceros outlines measures on how the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will expand existing rhino areas and secure new areas for rhino populations.

"The plan provides a framework for establishing new private and community sanctuaries that contain suitable habitats for black rhinos," Malonza said as Kenya joined the international community to mark World Rhino Day, which falls on Sept. 22 every year. The day aims to raise awareness of the need to protect the existing species of rhinoceros.

The black rhino is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Appendix 1, which contains species that are threatened with extinction.

According to the ministry, the number of black rhinos in the country has increased from less than 400 in 1989 to an estimated 966 now, almost halfway to the long-term vision of 2,000 black rhinos by 2037.

Malonza said the plan outlines a number of innovative mechanisms to raise funds for rhino conservation from domestic, regional and international sources as government funding is insufficient.

Malonza revealed that in order to eliminate poaching, the plan will prioritize the use of individual ID-based rhino monitoring to provide early warning of possible missing or poached animals.

Silvia Museiya, principal secretary in the ministry, said the plan will also provide a roadmap for restocking rhino sanctuaries that are below their carrying capacity.

"Such efforts will address the increased rhino mortalities due to territorial fights and suppressed growth rates due to constrained space," she added.

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