Kenya joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Rhino Day that is marked on September 22, every year.
The world celebrated all five remaining species of rhinoceros: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. There are only 40 (forty) Javan rhinos left worldwide.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Extinction is forever; time to act is now.” Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) exhorts the world to work together in supporting rhino conservation, and to debunk existing myths about the rhino horn, which will extinguish demand for these horns worldwide.
The event united government agencies, NGO’s, businesses and cause-related organizations as well as the general public, to celebrate our heritage and share information on rhino conservation.
All of the world’s rhino species are under threat, predominantly for their horn, which is mostly used in traditional Eastern medicine. Rhino horn is made up primarily of keratin, the same type of protein that constitutes hair and fingernails. It has no medicinal properties.
Unbridled poaching in the 70’s and 80’s occasioned a substantial deterioration in the rhino population, from upwards of 20,000 to approximately 300 individuals in 1989. The surviving rhinos were corralled into fortified sanctuaries with the aim of enhancing breeding. The government through KWS, County governments, conservation agencies, private and community sanctuaries has been working together to diminish threats posed to Kenya’s rhino population. Kenya currently hosts the third-largest population of rhinos tallying at 1,149 as at the end of 2016, after South Africa and Namibia.
Nanyuki town in Laikipia County was the venue for this year’s celebrations in Kenya with Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu officiating the occasion. The County hosts half of the rhino population in the country.
Kenya has just finalized developing the 6th edition of the five-year Kenya Black Rhino Action Plan (2017-2021) which is to be launched later this year. The vision is to conserve at least 2,000 black rhinos of the Eastern African subspecies, while the overall goal for the next five years is to achieve a meta-population of 830 black rhinos by the end of 2021.
The development of the Action Plan follows the worst period in rhino conservation in the recent past, with reported rhino poaching of 5,703 black and white rhinos in Africa between 2012 and 2016. Nevertheless, over the last three years poaching has dwindled in Kenya largely due to conjoined efforts by the government with local and international stakeholders.
“We ask all Kenyans to show their support for rhino conservation by working together on this day and let the world know we care about the plight of rhinos, debunk myths of their horns’ value and diminish the demand for rhino horn”, says KWS Acting Director General, Mr. Julius Kimani.