Last weekend, good news arrived in this correspondent’s email inbox, when the Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced that with the recent birth of another Southern White the total rhino population on the estate is now standing at a proud 100, of which four are of the rarest kind, the Northern White, 12 of the Southern White variety, and 84 of the endangered Eastern Black kind.
Ol Pejeta, visited in February by this correspondent, is one of the main breeding grounds for rhinos in Kenya and has enjoyed great successes in spite of challenges, which need to be dealt with.
The conservancy has now also started a naming contest on their Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ol-Pejeta-Conservancy/238056550323 and encourage readers to visit the site and give suggestions for names. A small committee on Ol Pejeta will review all the proposed names and will announce the winners as early next week.
The survival of the rhinos, both the black and white species, stands on knife’s edge as poaching has in recent years once again increased, in particular in southern Africa, which makes for an alarming trend for the conservation fraternity, considering the ever-growing hunger for their horns in parts of Arabia and the Far East, there mainly China and Japan.
Elsewhere in East Africa, Uganda had lost her entire population of rhinos in the early 1980s, when dictatorships turned a blind eye to poaching or when allegedly regime members were part and parcel of the poaching rings, and only a few years ago did the Rhino Fund Uganda bring the Southern White species back into the country and started a breeding program on the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, where the three females have since given birth to three healthy young males. Six more Southern White are expected later in the year from South Africa and will help to accelerate the breeding program, which is aimed to eventually restore rhinos to the wild, starting with Kidepo Valley and Murchisons Falls national parks.
Meanwhile in Kenya, breeding programs are much more advanced already, having commenced two-and-a-half decades earlier, when the Lewa Down Conservancy and the equally-private Solio Game Reserve were joined by the first two official rhino reserves in Lake Nakuru National Park and in Tsavo West National Park below the Ngulia escarpment. Relative newcomer Ol Pejeta, however, turned the tables on the more established breeding programs when it became the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and their latest arrival was surely worth popping a few champagne corks in celebrations. Congrats to Ol Pejeta for this extraordinary achievement and all the best in the future for yet more success. For more information, and also how to financially support Ol Pejeta, write to [email protected] or visit their website via www.olpejetaconservancy.org .