Conservation efforts pay off, rhinos thrive in Lewa
No rhino has been poached in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Meru in the past three years due to good human-wildlife relations that promote conservation.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Impact Report for 2016 noted that 14 new rhinos were born last year in the Lewa-Borana landscape, an indication of the concerted efforts between the conservancy and local communities in protecting endangered species.
About 14 per cent of Kenya’s rhino population live in Lewa, which straddles Meru, Laikipia and Isiolo counties.
“In Kenya, rhino poaching has dropped from 59 animals at the height of poaching in 2013 to 10 animals in 2016, " the report says.
Other measures attributed to the wildlife spike include partnerships with local communities and significant investment in security training and intelligence, the report noted.
Rhinos, an endangered species, are among the most poached animals in Kenya, with their population dwindling in most parts of the country.
They are mostly killed for their horns due to the belief in some Asian countries that they cure diseases, including cancer, and can be used as an aphrodisiac.
The Lewa-Borana landscape is the biggest rhino sanctuary in Africa, with 83 black and 74 white rhinos.
The buffalo population in Lewa also tripled in the past decade, with the current number standing at 1,220. Out of the 77 Grevy's zebra calves born in 2016, 68 per cent remained alive by the end of the year.
The report says 1,200 elephants used the underpass beneath the Meru-Nanyuki road at Subuiga that connects previously isolated elephant populations while mitigating human-elephant conflict.
In a joint statement, the conservancy’s Kenya board chairman Michael Joseph and Chief Executive Officer Mike Watson said: “The conservation and related community development successes highlighted in this report reflect our strong reputation and relationships with multiple partners and stakeholders across community, private, and public sectors.”
And Lewa’s head of anti-poaching operations Edward Ndiritu said: “We can see these collaborative efforts bearing fruit. They give us hope that we will be able to see rhinos roam in the thousands once more in Kenya.”