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Kenya's black rhinos continue to rebound

Words by Smiley Team

In Kenya, numbers of the critically endangered black rhinos are significantly increasing. 

Figures released by the Kenya Wildlife Service show that 938 eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) were recorded as of December 2021, up from 853 the previous year – that's almost a 10% increase, and far surpasses the goal of achieving 830 black rhinos by then. 

It's particularly significant, considering the population only grew at an average rate of 2.7% per year in the last decade. Now, the average population growth between 2017 and 2021 stands at 5.9% per year.  

So how did it happen?

The significant increase is being attributed to effective conservation measures such as improved anti-poaching capacity, strong partnerships and robust monitoring of rhino populations.  

Since the early 1960s, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has supported black rhino conservation in the country. The charity is currently supporting the development of Kenya’s Black Rhino Action Plan for 2022-26, which will guide black rhino conservation efforts over the coming years.   

WWF assists with efforts to monitor rhino populations including rhino surveys, equipment and infrastructure such as watchtowers in key rhino ranges. It also supports training, such as scene of crime and rhino monitoring courses, and efforts to improve ranger welfare including the upgrade of living standards and supply of rations. 

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Work has continued to protect rhinos despite the challenges of Covid-19 and an ongoing severe drought.  

Katherine Elliott, Senior Programme Adviser - Africa, at WWF-UK, said: “It is heartening that, thanks to conservation efforts over many years, eastern black rhino numbers are continuing to rise in Kenya.

“Rhinos play a crucial role in their environment, as their grazing and browsing helps to maintain a healthy balance of shrub and grass cover benefitting other wildlife. Healthy wildlife populations attract tourists which help provide local communities with employment and a source of income. By helping to protect the rhino, we can safeguard its environment for the benefit of both people and wildlife for generations to come.” 

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This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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