Kindness To Rhinos

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Read any huntin’ shootin’ travellers’ accounts from Kenya’s colonial days and you’ll have rhinos charging from every bush. A single day’s trek through the wilderness could yield half a dozen such hair-raising encounters. Rhinos can be very dangerous, and exceedingly unpredictable, but it makes me think. In times before British aristocrats turned the plains of Tsavo into their private hunting grounds, or game control officers decreed rhino clearance a matter of  necessity, rhino numbers must have amounted to tens of thousands. Big Game Hunter, John Hunter, claimed he’d dispatched over one thousand in the course of his shooting career, this mostly to free up settlement land. A single man and one who loved wildlife!

In the 1970s there were said to be 20,000 rhinos in Kenya. Then came poaching. Numbers plummeted to three hundred. Finally enlightened conservation initiatives were begun in the 1980s and numbers are now above 700, with protected populations in several of the national parks. One thriving private initiative is Lewa Downs in Northern Kenya – a former colonial ranch transformed into a wildlife conservancy. It’s an enterprise of breath-taking scale – not only securing vast rangelands for animals (including 169 black rhinos), but also working with local communities to improve livelihoods, health care and education.

Watch the video and be amazed.

https://youtu.be/b8YGoV5obhk

 

KindaSquare #22

27 thoughts on “Kindness To Rhinos

      1. When I read about the Northern and Western Rhinos had become extinct I went into a fug of anger fuelled depression for a few days.
        When my brother won his WWF photographic award the overal winning photo was one of a slaughtered rhino.
        These things just do my head in, I’m sorry.

  1. They are such majestic yet terrifying creatures. I really hope that in another 40 years the numbers are looking even better, however on learning today the arctic winter ice is not yet forming I fear for our world

    1. If only I had the pennies to visit one of the Lewa lodges, they look amazing and would love to support their work. Quite extraordinary how much they do – wish they didn’t need the armed rangers though. They are brave people who do that work

    2. I think the Arctic has done a lot of fluctuating over the ages. A lot of volcanoes under the ocean bed too. On the good news front there’s apparently a world record breaking wheat harvest being produced across the planet, nearly 5 million tons more than expected.

      1. ooh thanks for this . .will share with MrB as he will be interested too. Thanks also for the follow up one which I have just seen has arrived in my notifications

  2. There is some critical commentary on this side of the ocean about Lewa and many other conservancies. They have alienated the local communities, grabbed so much land and that what they are doing isn’t comparable to what they have taken from the community.

    1. Yes, I’ve read that too, Mak. They do need watching, that’s for sure. The US Nature Conservancy that seems to have a toehold in Kenyan conservancies is concerning. In fact I read somewhere that 15% of Kenya is now owned by conservancies!!! Back in 1992 George Monbiot was reporting over problems for local people over access to their wells. One thing that’s happening with the Nature Conservancy is that these private wildlife fiefdoms are being used as

      1. And there is also something else. Prospecting for minerals in the North where most of these ranches are located seen as a way to not only dispossess the community but to rob the nation. So there are many things happening but are hardly said

      2. I was wondering about that – minerals, eh, and maybe even oil (?) This conservancy thing is happening elsewhere in Africa, the Baka hunter gatherers driven from their forest. Is no one in Kenya investigating this? Too risky maybe.

      3. Too risky and then you know those parts of the country were marginalised for so long the rest of the country might not know whats cooking

  3. It is wonderful to know humans can do some good in trying to repair the damage we’ve wrought, but then when we scratch the surface, there’s the spectre of less than honourable motives and acts. I guess the message is that we need to pay attention, and try to keep each other accountable.

  4. Reminds me of what happened with bison in America. The last time we visited Yellowstone there was a large herd and I thought what it must have been like to see bison as far as the eye could see.

    janet

    1. It’s good the bison are back in Yellowstone, but yes, how magnificent were the original herds. In Kenya early European travellers arriving on the new Uganda railway in the 1900s describe the Kapiti Plains south of Nairobi an original Eden – plains game from horizon to horizon.

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