In spite of massive investments by the Ol Pejeta Conservancy towards improved surveillance and added anti-poaching measures, poachers have managed to sneak into the private game sanctuary of nearly 90,000 acres in central Kenya and kill a pregnant Eastern Black Rhino.
A night patrol on foot comprising four rangers who are also police reservists, found the dead animal with both her horns already cut off.
A conservancy-wide alarm was sounded prompting additional ground units to be sent into the field leading to the arrest of two suspects who are now in custody and undergoing interrogation.
The rhino’s two-and-a-half-year-old calf was at first light spotted wandering alone and is being closely monitored to ensure its wellbeing.
Conservancy sources reacted promptly to concerns over the safety of the remaining three Northern White Rhinos, the last in the wild, which are under 24/7 close-up surveillance but pointed out that with over 100 Eastern Black Rhinos on the conservancy and another nearly three dozen Southern White Rhinos, protective measures simply cannot include each of the animals being given its own patrol.
This was the first such incident on Ol Pejeta for quite some time, and once again speaks for the need to let conservancies use UAVs, aka drones, for added surveillance with real-time updates. The drones tested by Ol Pejeta have infrared capabilities, showing movement on the ground, and were it not for sections of the Kenya government’s prohibition order on the use of such devices, both rhinos could still be alive.
Meanwhile, it was learned that when the incident occurred, Ol Pejeta’s CEO, Richard Vigne, was in the United States on a fundraising and speaking mission to raise awareness on the plight of the African rhinos and the urgent need for more financial and material support.