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It has been exactly one week since the first black rhino – Songa, translocated from Lewa, set foot on the Borana Conservancy – a very exciting moment!
Together with Lewa and the Kenyan Wildlife Service, we have been making history this week, moving a total of 21 rhino from Lewa Downs and Nakuru National Park on to the Conservancy.
11 critically endangered black rhino came from Lewa, in one of their most numerous translocations yet. The translocation will help to decongest Lewa’s rhino population and reintroduce black rhino to Borana, an area they last inhabited in the 1970s. This translocation is a celebration of Lewa’s success as a rhino sanctuary – years of conservation efforts have seen their black rhino population increase to reach its maximum carrying capacity 0f 110, and the Conservancy is now able to help restock areas that previously supported this endangered species.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service was also integral to this major rhino moving exercise. They were moving two every other day from Nakuru National Park, by road having drugged and fitted them with transmitters – they were travelling well into the night on each occasion making for a more peaceful release during the dark hours, but their dedication to this job was exemplary.
Given the fact that rhinos are facing the greatest threat in history from poaching, this is an inspirational story in the midst of a true struggle. Borana’s pledge to conservation will see the safe and protected territory for black rhinos to thrive, increase by 32,000 acres. Borana Conservancy has been preparing to take on this task for 3 years, both costly and risky, but well worth all the time and effort. We are now the youngest rhino conservancy in the world.
The translocation has gone very smoothly, and the rhino are settling in to their new surroundings. The Borana Conservancy team is thrilled to now give guests the rare opportunity to see black rhino in their natural habitat, and to have joined the quest to save these incredible creatures from their endangered state.
Translocation in pictures:
The rhino is chosen and darted from the helicopter, which is then used to track the rhino until the sedative has taken effect, making sure that he stays in an accessible area.
The rhino is then tied up and blindfolded ready for the vet examination and the insertion of the transmitter.
The rhino is now pulled into an open area where the truck and crate can easily reach it.
The crate is lowered down next to the rhino.
Vets take samples.
Batian Craig drills a hole in the back horn, in which he inserts a tracking device. He also removes as much of the front horn as he can, hoping to dissuade potential poachers.
The rhino is pulled to the door of the crate, given ‘revivolon’ and encouraged to walk into the crate with the help of a cattle prodder.
The door is closed.
The crate is lifted onto the flatbed of a waiting truck by a crane.
The rhino has been safely loaded and is now ready for his journey to Borana.