Njange Maina @NjangeWaEunice
The last of the 11 black rhinos translocated to the Tsavo National Park last month died on Monday. The death adds to the grim statistics of the mighty yet vulnerable species, which has for long borne the brunt of poaching, illegal ivory trade and negligence by agencies tasked to protect wildlife.
In less than three weeks, the country has lost 12 rhinos! Eleven died in quick succession after a botched translocation last month while the other was killed by poachers for its horn in Lake Nakuru National Park on July 30.
Since 2016, 35 rhinos have died 25 of them due to poaching. In Laikipia’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the biggest rhino sanctuary in East Africa, 17 rhinos have died in the last seven years. Only two of the deaths were natural, with poachers claiming the rest.
Let’s put the statistics into perspective: In 1970, at least 20,000 black rhinos roamed Kenya. Today, thanks to massive poaching, there are only under 1,000 left.
Ol Pejeta has set up a commemoration site for dead rhinos that can be accounted for, with epitaphs on their tombstones. Yet hundreds of unknown graves lie unmarked in the wilderness where the poachers have had a field day.
The People Daily recently visited Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the memorial site lays bare the cruelty of poachers and perhaps the laxity of State agencies in protecting the animal.
Much has been said about him. The last male Northern White rhino died March this year. He died of health complications. Sudan was survived by two kin who scientists may use to rekindle their species from extinction.
Suni died in 2014 after staying in the conservancy for five years. He was taken at Ol Pejeta alongside his kin Sudan and other Northern White rhinos with hopes they would breed. Suni died of natural causes.
On 8th July 2011, Kiriamiti was found dead after poachers gunned him down. He had been named after the robber-turned-writer John Kiriamiti.
The female black rhino was born on 1st January 1983. On 14th February 2011, a month after her 28th birthday, Shemsha was killed by poachers and de-horned.
Job was special. The male black rhino who was blind had been enclosed and semi-tamed at the Ol Pejeta ranch. But that did not deter poachers, who gunned him down on February 4, 2008 and removed both horns.
Poachers set up a trap that caught Chema. The female black rhino was found dead in the trap with both of her horns missing. She was aged 30 when she was killed.
Like her name, Upendo was a lovely female black rhino who was shot dead by poachers on the evening of 14th March 2013. They made away with her horns.
Loita was a male black rhino who met his death on 5th September 2015. Loita was shot with a poisoned dart and both his horns removed. At the time of his death, Loita was 25 years old.
About 3 weeks after Loita died, Kaka was killed using the same tactic. Kaka, a male black rhino, was killed on 27th September 2015, at 19 years.
Mwanzo was female black rhino who was shot by poachers on 19th February 2011. At the time of her death, Mwanzo was only four years old.
Max, a male black rhino had been tamed at the conservancy since his birth in 2005. In 2010 Max was de-horned to ward off poachers but on 29th June 2011, he was shot dead and the remaining horn parts removed.
The female black rhino was born on 25th June 1980 and was gunned down by poachers on 2nd December, 2015. Carol’s carcass was found the following morning with her horns missing.
Muigo was shot by poachers on the night of 22nd May 2016 and both horns removed. A few minutes past midnight, the male black rhino died at the age of 29.
On 15th April 2016, poachers gunned down Asha and removed her two horns.
Her death was perhaps the most cruel. Ishirini was 12 months pregnant when she was shot by poisoned arrows. Both horns of the 20 year old rhino were removed.
Batian, named after a peak in Mt Kenya was a black rhino who was shot on August 9th 2009 and later succumbed to injuries six days later on 15th August.
The male black rhino was shot on the night of 10th July 2011. Veterinarians attempted to save him but were unsuccessful. He died a month later.