With rhino horn now worth more than its weight in gold, the situation at the Ol Pejeta conservancy, Kenya has become even more tense.
Richard Vigne is the CEO of Ol Pejeta, the largest black rhino sancutary in East Africa. He tells World of Animals about the latest issues facing both the critically endangered rhinos, and the team trying to save them.
“The last month has been tough for both law enforcement agencies and rhinos. There have been a number of attempts in the various parks and conservancies around the country to kill rhinos for their horns.
In one recent incident a member of the Kenya Wildlife Services lost his life after he was shot by a poaching gang. It would seem that these gangs are becoming better equipped and more daring in their attempts to kill rhinos with the use of night vision equipment now regularly reported.
This reflects the ever increasing demand for rhino horn and, consequently, the price that attaches to that commodity. Until demand is addressed poor people living around wildlife reserves will continue to take increasing risks to obtain horn.
However it is not all doom and gloom; on Ol Pejeta we managed to foil one poaching attempt during the month. An informer from the community living around the Conservancy told us of a group who were planning to come in over the full moon to hunt for rhinos.
We arrested them as they came in along the Ewaso Nyiro river that flows underneath the fence… Recently a new Wildlife Act was passed in Kenya meaning that these people are likely to face very heavy sentences for their involvement in wildlife crime.
We also had a new black rhino born during the month, and mother and calf are doing well despite the occasional interest from hyena and lions!”