No Rhinos Were Poached in Kenya Last Year – A Feat Not Achieved Since 1999
For the first time in 21 years, Kenya has reported zero poaching of rhinos. This accomplishment is attributed widely to travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19, but other factors that contributed include actions on behalf of the government to work with local communities, anti-poaching operations, and other conservation efforts. Even with the country hitting this record low, they remain on high alert, as there has been a steady increase in bushmeat poaching and other crimes due to the pandemic.
Southern Africa is home to 80% of all African rhinos on Earth. Rhinos as a species are deemed critically endangered by the World Wildlife Fund, with some predictions stating that this animal could reach extinction by 2036 if human intervention is not attempted.
In 2017, Kenya had a rhino population of only 1,258. In 2018, the last male white rhino died, bringing the number of this subspecies in Kenya and across the world to just two. It has been said that close to 500 white rhinos could be found grazing across several East and Central African countries up until 1970. Poaching during this time reduced the population of white rhinos to 15 by 1980 and then to 32 by 2003. The remaining two females of this species were both born in captivity and are the sole remnant of hope that we might be able to bring these animals back – a startling reality brought on by the horrendous results of poaching.
To add to the already amazing accomplishment seen with rhinos, Kenya also saw a record low number of elephants poached during 2020! In 2012, 384 elephants were poached, which is the highest recorded number to date. In 2020, only 11 elephants were poached.
This incredible feat is one that has conservationist incredibly hopeful for the future – one which might continue to include wild rhinos (and elephants) freely roaming Kenya.