, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has successfully translocated 21 rhinos from Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the newly established Borana Rhino sanctuary in Laikipia.
Ten rhinos were moved from Lake Nakuru National Park while the other 11 were translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
KWS spokesperson Paul Muya says the translocation is aimed at establishing a new rhino population and keeping the established populations in Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy productive by maintaining their numbers below their ecological carrying capacity levels.
“We want to establish a viable stock of the recommended number by the International Union for Conservation of Nature of up to 21 rhinos,” he said.
Muya noted that the number of rhinos breeding at the Lake Nakuru National Park had increased enormously creating concerns that it may lead to a food crisis for other wildlife at the park.
“We have currently 140 rhinos in the park,” he revealed.
“Black rhinos have steadily increased within the sanctuaries necessitating removals to avoid negative density dependent effects. However, many established sanctuaries still remain overstocked hence new secure habitats are required.”
The current Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya 2012-2016 sets targets on restocking former free ranging areas which can support large populations, as well as the creation of Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ) and secure sanctuaries in order to achieve its strategic objective of population expansion to reach a confirmed total of 750 black rhinos by end of 2016.
“Focus is placed on promoting creation of more government, private and community rhino sanctuaries to achieve the vision of a meta-population of 2,000 black rhinos in Kenya managed in their natural habitat in the long term.”
Borana Rhino Sanctuary, which is privately owned, was one of the new areas targeted in the strategic plan for rhino population expansion.
Muya says the transfer was necessitated by their current efforts to acquire more space for the rhinos and also in a bid to establish more conservation areas.
“We have also a scientific prove that supports the new established stock; it has also enough food for the black rhino’s,” he said.
Lake Nakuru National Park also has white rhinos in addition to more than 5,000 grazers that include zebras, gazelles, hippopotamus, giraffes, warthogs and baboons.