Wildlife

Paul Udoto brings us the latest wildlife news

RhinoRampant poaching in the 1970s and 1980s, led to a drastic decline in Kenya’s rhino population from over 20,000 to about 300 individuals in 1989. These individuals were protected in highly secured sanctuaries with the aim of assisting breeding. Kenya currently has the third-largest population of rhinos in the world totalling 1041. The population of black rhinos has increased from 381 in 1987 to 631, which translates to a 65.6 per cent increase. White rhinos have increased from 169 in 2001 to 410, which translates to a 142.6 per cent increase.  In stark contrast, the northern white rhino faces almost certain extinction in the near future, as it has a population of just five – the last three remaining in the wild are protected in the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya’s Laikipia County.

Boost to mountain bongo
Together with the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation and the Bongo Surveillance Programme, Rhino Ark has secured US$100,000 towards the conservation of the critically endangered mountain bongo. The funds have been given by Mr Brad Kelley, an American philanthropist. The mountain bongo is a large forest-dwelling antelope that lives at high altitudes in dense indigenous forest. Fewer than 100 individuals are thought to exist in the wild. They are all in Kenya, surviving in small groups in the Aberdares, Mt Kenya and parts of the Mau Forests. The Bongo programme is expanding its conservation work to all mountain forest areas where the bongos are known to exist. These areas are subject to increasing human pressure.

Maasai Olympics
Olympic 800 metres gold medallist and world record holder David Rudisha has lent his high profile status to a special ‘Maasai Olympics’ in Kimana in Amboseli as part of a campaign in which traditional lion hunters are swapping spears for sport as an alternative test for warriors’ strength to fight the dwindling numbers of big cats.

Ravenous eaters
Elephants eat up to 250kg of food and drink up to 200 litres of water daily. They digest only 40 per cent of what they eat and this inefficient digestive system means that they must eat large quantities of food to retain and absorb nutrients for good health. Kenya’s estimated national elephant population of 38,000 is the fourth-largest in the world after Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.