Isiolo, Kenya – In the past week, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy suffered the demoralizing loss of four rhinos to poachers. Two male black rhinos and two female black rhinos were slaughtered, bringing the population of rhino on Lewa back down to 71 individuals. In a country where the population is slightly above 600 animals, these incidents are a devastating blow to conservation efforts and show the enormous pressure that these animals are under.
Rhinotek, an 11-year-old female rhino was found dead at mid-day on the 1st of December. The initial assessment did not give a clear indication of the cause of death but further veterinary examination established that the animal died from a bullet wound to the stomach. Nyota, a 20-year-old female and Serian, a seven-year-old male were shot dead at approximately 1:00 am, on the 2nd of December. Another carcass, later on identified as Jazz, a male rhino, was discovered mid-afternoon on the 2nd of December. Three of the rhino horn sets were intact and have since been recovered for safekeeping. The poachers managed to remove the other set of horns.
Many experts highlight that Africa's rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in decades, with the most serious poaching upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Although population figures for both black and white rhinos have increased since 2007, because of the increase in poaching, there is still grave concern for the rhino's future. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is not immune to this crisis and has lost 10 rhinos in the last three years.
"These incidents serve as a constant reminder of the harsh reality and rapidly escalating threat faced by rhinos. Lewa is now more than ever determined to counter these threats by increasing our security and monitoring efforts, reinforcing the important contribution that Lewa's wildlife is making to local communities, and minimising the risk posed to the remaining rhino population," Mike Watson, Lewa's CEO reaffirms the commitment towards rhino conservation, despite this most recent setback.
For more information, please visit: www.lewa.org