World Rhino Day

It’s World Rhino Day and we’re here in Nairobi on the Kenyan leg of Project African Rhino – our three year photo-journalism drive to raise awareness about rhino conservation at a time when poaching is on the rise again.  It’s been a hectic first week of intensive research and photography in the beautiful Laikipia region, which is home to many of the country’s black and white rhinos and which contains some of Kenya‘s most successful rhino sanctuaries . During the first days of our visit we’ve witnessed the best and, sadly, the worst of the current situation…

We’ve been fascinated to meet a number of extremely passionate and dedicated people who spend their lives protecting Kenya’s rhinos – from the young Masai rhino monitor who daily patrols a large area of the bush on foot to check on the safety of each rhino living there, to the rhino ‘caregiver’ who is tasked with ensuring the welfare of some of the world’s rarest animals. (Four of the last remaining seven Northern white rhinos on the planet were brought to Kenya recently from a zoo in the Czech Republic in the hope they will breed here).

Then there’s the pioneering private landowner who can’t wait to welcome a group of some 20 or so black rhinos onto his family’s land in the coming months, despite the current challenges and the enormous costs of protecting them, hopefully creating a new population of black rhinos for the future in this area.

But there was also a stark and horrific reminder for us of the reason we started this project.  Just a week before our arrival in Kenya a white rhino had been shot at close range with an AK47 on Lewa Conservancy; the well-known reserve where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton. Its horns were hacked off by the poachers. The men had come onto Lewa in the day, waited until dusk before striking in a remote corner of the reserve, and then used the cover of darkness to make their escape.

We went to find the carcass and photograph it during our visit to Lewa. This was the second poaching incident on the conservancy this year. It was the first time we saw for ourselves the cruel and harsh reality of this illegal trade.  We’ll be reporting our Kenya experiences in much more detail later, and putting up plenty of images, but on World Rhino Day we want to join with everyone in hoping we can somehow find a way to stop the slaughter of endangered  wildlife before it’s too late.

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One Comment on “World Rhino Day”

  1. Peter Huggins September 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Just got back from Kruger in South Africa. They are losing an average of one white rhino per day!!

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