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World: No rhinos were poached in Kenya for the first time in 21 years

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The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) announced that no rhinos were poached in 2020. It has been 21 years since such an event had not occurred, the peak was observed in 2013 with a total of 59 rhinos killed.

A few weeks ago, South Africa announced that rhino poaching had dropped by a third in its territory with the containment linked to the health crisis. Today, it is even better news that Kenya unveiled. Last year, no Kenyan rhinoceros fell into the hands of poachers.

"The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) recorded zero rhino poaching during the year 2020," said John Waweru, director-brigadier general of KWS, in a statement. This is the first time in 21 years that such an event has occurred. "The last time this feat was achieved was in 1999," he said.

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Like other African countries, Kenya has experienced an outbreak of poaching over the past twenty years which peaked in 2013 with a total of 59 rhinos killed. Since then, the authorities have put in place many measures to try to stem the trend. Efforts that seemed to bear fruit despite the crisis linked to Covid-19.

KWS explained that threats of poaching and conflict between wildlife and humans increased during the pandemic which forced the country to close its borders. But the Kenyan rhinos, now under close surveillance, seem to have been spared.

Increasing populations

According to the KWS, the population reached at the end of 2017 a little more than 1,250 individuals including 745 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis), 510 southern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum) and 3 white rhinos from the North (C. simum cottoni). Figures that have climbed thanks to the strengthening of anti-poaching operations and animal surveillance.

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With the exception of the last subspecies however. Since the death of the last male, Sudan, in 2018, there are only two female northern white rhinos left and they are unable to reproduce. A finding that prompted specialists to launch a vast project to try to give birth to a small and save the subspecies from extinction.

In 2019, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy reserve located in Kenya had already rejoiced in a "particularly positive" year marked by 17 births of black rhinos. In mid-December, it counted a population of 132 black rhinos and a growing group of 35 individuals of the subspecies C. simum simum.

Good news also for elephants

The quota of zero animals killed in 2020 is a new encouragement for the protectors of mammals who continue their efforts. Earlier this month, KWS announced that it had installed transmitters and microchips on six individuals in Tsavo East National Park, located some 400 kilometers from Nairobi in the east of the country.

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However, the good news isn't just about rhinos. According to authorities, the poaching of elephants is also on the decline. In 2020, eleven pachyderms were killed. "This is the lowest record in KWS history," said John Waweru. The last peak occurred in 2012 with 384 elephants poached.

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