Kenya’s black rhino population has more than doubled from fewer than 400 in 1989 to the current estimated population of 960.
The Principal Secretary for Wildlife Ms Sivia Museiya said with strategic rhino conservation interventions, Kenya projects to have 2,000 black rhinos over the next 14 years from current 960.
Ms Museiya said, the Government supports initiatives by the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to expand the rhino range through opening up of new rhino sanctuaries and restocking of rhino sanctuaries that are below their carrying capacities.
The Principal Secretary who was speaking at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi at the launch of 7th Edition of the Recovery and Action Plan for Black Rhino 2022-2026 said such efforts will solve the rhino deaths caused by fight for territories by the animals and suppressed growth rates because of reducing spaces for the rhinos.
Ms Museiya said, it was encouraging that private and community landowners have expressed interest to collaborate with the government in rhino conservation in attempts to expanding the rhino range. She said the government was committed to realizing the potential for expanding existing areas particularly securing the Tsavo West National Park Intensive Protection Zone (IPZs) which has the capacity to host a large number of rhinos for the long-term survival.
The PS said there was urgent need to deal with causes and impacts of climate change which have led to unpredictable seasons, prolonged droughts and resource that constraints rhino habitats. She commended the rhino conservation areas in the national parks, national reserves, private, and community lands for their efforts to conserve the rhinos.
She explained that efforts to safeguard the black rhinos population was bolstered by the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA), 2013 which introduced punitive penalties for wildlife crimes particularly for the critically endangered species. She observed that intensive national security surveillance and support from the international community also significant fight against the illegal wildlife trade and reduced rhino poaching in the country
The black rhino is classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES). The classification and listing are based on the great challenges confronting the rhino species.
Kenya has the third largest black and white rhino population in the world, after South Africa and Namibia.
The black and white rhino are the only two species found in Africa while three other species, the greater one–horned, the Sumatran and Javan rhino species are found in Asia.