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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rhino Population Continues to Increase in Kenya

Rhino Population Continues to Increase in Kenya


From African Wildlife Foundation

Friday, July 18, 2003--Not only is the eastern black rhino highly endangered, it is also localized in small populations of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Located primarily in fenced sanctuaries, these small populations hold the future of the species. Sanctuaries aim to have rhinos reproduce safely away from poachers, to increase and ultimately to repopulate other areas.

AWF Chief Scientist, Dr. Philip Muruthi, just returned from a two-day visit to Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Tsavo, Kenya. "The AWF-supported sanctuary has been a success" reports Muruthi. A night census was just concluded and it has revealed that there are now 57 black rhinos at Ngulia, up from 53 individuals in 2001. An increase in births and no reported poaching incidents have allowed the Ngulia rhino population to grow. "We found that the security situation is still at high alert, following poaching in the adjacent Tsavo East National Park" says Muruthi.

Muruthi also reported that Tsavo East National Park still offers much hope for rhino conservation. Allaying fears that poaching had eliminated the population completely, 30 black rhinos have been confirmed to be roaming freely in the unfenced park. There was an estimated 49 black rhinos in Tsavo East National Park in 2001, so this is a setback for the "free-release" program. But the rhino population is still reproducing with more than two babies sighted in the last two months.

With close to 500 individual animals, Kenya's eastern black rhino (Diceros michaeli) is still growing. The staff at Ngulia conveyed their appreciation of AWF's continued support and acknowledged that the program continues to be a success thanks to the support of the government and other stakeholders such as the African Wildlife Foundation.

Dr. Muruthi greeted the increase in Ngulia's black rhino numbers with optimism, but cautioned that "the threats to rhinos are still profound, and we must not relax our efforts to save them. The staff at Ngulia continues to have urgent needs which can be met with the support of organizations like AWF."

For more information, contact:
Elodie Sampere
Communications Director
African Wildlife Foundation

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