Rhinos are under terrible threat and numbers have declined dramatically. One hundred years ago there were some 500,000 throughout Asia’s tropical forests and Africa’s savannah, but today just 25,000 rhino remain, mostly found in protected areas. The main problem is poaching for their horns, with habitat loss and political conflict also factors in their decline.
Poaching has escalated in recent years with hundreds being killed and illegally traded annually. If it continues to increase at this rate rhinos could go into serious decline and even disappear altogether. Poaching is driven by demand for traditional Asian medicine, and because of its very high retail value rhino horn is increasingly seen as a show of wealth. Despite the lack of evidence, the horn is believed to help cure a wide range of ailments.
Kenya has the third-largest population of rhino in the world after South Africa and Namibia and is a relative success story in rhino conservation. Official figures published recently by KWS stated the country has a total of 1047 rhino (648 black and 399 white). And with Kenya Airways’ help, Born Free and KWS are doing all they can to keep them safe!
Donated funds have been used to train KWS teams in rhino monitoring techniques to identify and protect rhinos in Nairobi and Lake Nakuru National Parks. Meanwhile, vital equipment donated by Kenya Airways including binoculars, tents, global positioning systems and solar panels support the work of the rangers. Born Free Kenya’s Country Manager, Tim Oloo is delighted, “Working together is the only way to protect Kenya’s wildlife heritage. Rhino are an ancient species whose current plight is entirely the result of human greed, superstition and ignorance. It is our responsibility to ensure this amazing creature is not lost ‘on our watch’. Our good friends at KQ are making a strategic contribution to the KWS rhino team as they carry out their life-saving work.”
Did you know?
• The 3.5 tonne white rhino is the largest species, the 800kg Sumatran the smallest.
• Confusingly, both black and white rhino are actually coloured grey.
• White rhino graze on grass, and black rhino browse on leaves, twigs & shrubs.
• Rhino look fierce and will charge to scare off an intruder, but are mostly quite timid.