Good news stories can be hard to come by in an era of extinction, but the steady improvement in the fortunes of the black rhino is one of those stories.
For the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, 2019 was a particularly positive year. The 17 black rhinos born at the home of East Africa’s largest grouping of black rhinos marked a record for the conservancy, a significant conservation success for this critically endangered species.
Ol Pejeta now has a population of 132 black rhinos (as of mid December 2019) as well as a growing population of southern white rhinos, currently standing at 35 individuals, in addition to the remaining two female northern white rhinos.
“The high annual population growth of black rhinos achieved at Ol Pejeta over the past 15 years in particular is essential to buffer against the periodic losses of rhinos to poaching,” says Rob Brett, Senior Technical Specialist for Africa at Fauna & Flora International (FFI). “The black rhino is still critically endangered and its numbers are a long way from where they were even 50 years ago. When we see these sorts of numbers produced in one year, however, it gives us hope that we can keep improving its fortunes and help Kenya restore its black rhino population to the goal of at least 2,000 animals.”
No black rhinos were poached at Ol Pejeta last year. The success of the black rhino programme at the 270-square-kilometre sanctuary is a standout example of long-term conservation planning combined with collaboration and a community-focused approach.