Kenya, Tanzania in joint probe after black rhino killed in Maasai Mara
What you need to know:
- The rhino, believed to have been between 15 and 20 years old, is the first reported incident of suspected poaching.
- But KWS says it is a worrying statistic of the vice which has thrived despite tougher penalties launched in 2014.
- Maasai Mara reflects some the country’s best efforts in conservation because it hosts the only sanctuary for the indigenous black rhino in Kenya.
The Kenya Wildlife Service says it has, together with Tanzanian authorities, launched a joint security investigation after a black rhino was found killed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
KWS suspects the rhino, which was found some 300 metres from the Kenya-Tanzania border and had its horns missing, may be the latest statistic of poaching.
“Preliminary observations show that the rhino was ‘Temple’ as identified by the Maasai Mara management.
“Its range covered both the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the adjacent Serengeti National Park,” Mr Paul Udoto, the KWS communications manager said.
“From the state of the carcass, the rhino is likely to have been killed on Friday and appeared to have come from the Serengeti side in Tanzania as indicated in the trail in the disturbed long grass,” he added.
The rhino, believed to have been between 15 and 20 years old, is the first reported incident of suspected poaching in 2016.
But KWS says it is a worrying statistic of the vice which has thrived despite tougher penalties launched in 2014.
In 2015, 11 rhinos were poached, according to figures from KWS, which says there are about 1,030 of them remaining in the country.
The black rhino differs from the white rhino because it has a smaller, hook lip used for browsing bushes as opposed to the white rhino which is a grazer.
They may live for up to four decades.
Maasai Mara reflects some the country’s best efforts in conservation because it hosts the only sanctuary for the indigenous black rhino in Kenya.
In 1971, the park had 120 black rhinos but the number dropped to below 20 due to poaching.
According to the Mara Conservancy, there are about 30 black rhinos in the Maasai Mara today.
The numbers, conservationists say, have been hampered by poaching and its infrequent breeding.
Its pregnancy lasts up to 16 months and the calf may suckle for three years.
KWS says it will collaborate with other authorities to monitor the movement of goods where poachers may smuggle rhino horns.
In 2015, KWS launched a forensic lab to help monitor cases of poaching.
It is equipped with testing instruments worth $486,000 (Sh48.6 million) funded by Canadian Global Peace Fund, Qiegen Germany, WWF and KWS.
In January 2016, the US government signed a memorandum of understanding on national conservation and management between the US Department of Interior and USAID, and Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, to help improve surveillance technology, train wildlife rangers and share information as the best tools to counter poaching.