Thirty-year-old Najin (L) and nineteen-year-old Fatu, the last two northern white rhinos are seen in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019. Kenya has said that efforts to halt the extinction of northern white rhinos have borne fruit after successful harvesting of eggs from the only two remaining female members of this species, paving way for artificial breeding. (Xinhua/John Okoyo)
Thanks to decades of conservation efforts, Kenya's Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has not recorded any poaching of critically endangered black rhino and the southern white rhino in the past 6 years.
MERU, Kenya, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A wildlife sanctuary in northern Kenya said Thursday it has not recorded any poaching of critically endangered black rhino and the southern white rhino in the past six years.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy's head of conservation and wildlife, Geoffrey Chege says that Lewa has strived over the years to protect the rhino population and other wildlife by maintaining a sustainable natural habitat.
"We are really impressed by the thriving rhino population across the landscape. The gains show that our conservation efforts are paying off," said Chege said in a statement issued ahead of the World Rhino Day on Sept. 22.
A caregiver feeds thirty-year-old Najin (L) and nineteen-year-old Fatu, the last two northern white rhinos, in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019. (Xinhua/John Okoyo)
Chege, who has steered various efforts in support of species' recovery on Lewa, Borana and beyond for the past 15 years said over the years, rhino numbers have increased on the landscape due to successful conservation efforts.
Lewa manages its wildlife and carries out conservation work in partnership with its western neighbor, Borana Conservancy.
The organization attributed the success to close cooperation with the local communities, well-trained and motivated anti-poaching conservation heroes such as rangers, and the use of technology.
According to the sanctuary, there are currently 105 and 99 black and southern white rhinos respectively, with 26 rhino births recorded by Sept. 1.
Rhino horn trade has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species since 1977.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, at the end of 2018, Kenya had about 1,400 rhinos, and the Lewa-Borana Landscape is home to 13 percent of this population.
The black rhino is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
Thirty-year-old Najin (L) and nineteen-year-old Fatu, the last two northern white rhinos are seen in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019.(Xinhua/John Okoyo)
The latest Lewa annual wildlife census shows that in the past three years, Southern white rhinos have increased by 24 percent.
"The species, though native to South Africa, is doing well in Kenya. It is a conservation success story, having been brought back from the very brink of extinction in the 20th century," the organization said.
It said conservation efforts on Lewa began in the early 1980s to protect the last of black rhinos from extinction. At the time, there were only 15 individual rhinos.
Edward Ndiritu Lewa's head of anti-poaching said the most pressing threat to the rhino's continued survival is poaching for the illegal trade.
"We are now more than ever determined to work tirelessly and demonstrate to the world that zero poaching can be achieved," Ndeiritu said.
"It is a fact that poaching is incredibly detrimental to the population of the critically endangered rhinos and also damage livelihood and growth of local communities," he added.