Kenya’s black rhinos gaining ground

AMHRB88 Black rhinos

Black rhino in Ol Pejeta

Some welcome good news from Kenya, where the land available for black rhino is being extended by some 8,000 hectares, with the establishment of the Mutara Conservancy in the Laikipia region. The new conservancy borders Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is home to a significant proportion of Kenya’s black rhino population. Ol Pejeta will assist in the wildlife management of the new conservancy, and linking wildlife corridors will allow migratory species such as elephant and wild dog to move freely between the two.

The new conservancy marks the beginning of a significant private/public sector partnership, as the land is managed by the Agricultural Development Corporation, a state body charged with promoting agricultural schemes in Kenya. A new luxury tented camp, Jambo Mutara Camp-Laikipia, has been established by the Monarch Group. The landscape, a typical Laikipia mix of grasslands and thick bush, is already home to many large game species, including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, giraffe and zebra, but up to now has not been managed with tourism and conservation in mind.

Ol Pejeta recently lost one of its four northern white rhino

Ol Pejeta recently lost one of its four northern white rhino

It’s welcome news for Ol Pejeta, which has recently had the disappointment of losing one of its northern white rhino, which died from natural causes (see previous blog) and has also suffered rhino poaching. Ol Pejeta’s black rhino are doing well, but the population threatens to outgrow the land available. ‘As the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa we are rapidly reaching our carrying capacity,’ explains CEO Richard Vigne. ‘Consequently, in support of national objectives, we will need to secure new habitat in future as our rhino populations expand. We hope that in time the Mutara Conservancy can be used to supply these requirements’.

Ol Pejeta is no stranger to combining agricultural and wildlife management, as we saw at first hand when we visited the conservancy. Boran cattle are ranched alongside wildlife, with the livestock herded into mobile predator-proof paddocks at night. These are moved regularly, so the cattle dung enriches the land and the cattle graze down moribund grass, avoiding the need for burning.

Ol Pejeta farms Boran cattle alongside wildlife

Ol Pejeta farms Boran cattle alongside wildlife

The conservancy supports some of the highest wildlife densities in Kenya, but by running complementary agriculture alongside conservation has avoided becoming solely dependent on tourism revenue, something which is important in a country where tourism is sensitive to the impact of political instability and terrorism.

We’ve previously reported on another initiative to increase land available for black rhinos in Laikipia. Borana reserve has introduced the animals, and taken down fences with neighbouring Lewa Conservancy, which, like Ol Pejeta, was running out space for its growing rhino population. (See previous blog).

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Comment on “Kenya’s black rhinos gaining ground”

  1. CYNTHIA L. HOWELL October 13, 2015 at 4:57 am #

    They dont kill us…we shouldn’t be killing them

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: