Kenya loses two more rhinos

TWO MORE RHINOS DEAD IN POACHING INCIDENT ON OL PEJETA

(Posted 23rd July 2014)

The award winning Ol Pejeta Conservancy has a few days ago lost two rhinos, one 8 year old female Eastern Black named Malkia and her recently born calf which was yet to be named.

The female was attacked and shot by poachers who got away before the mobile patrols could reach the site of the gunshots while the calf ran off and was shortly afterwards killed by a pride of lions. While the conservancy in the message sent out by the CEO Richard Vigne merely lamented the incident and decried the increase in poaching in Kenya, have conservationists reacted swiftly and once again blamed the Kenyan government for their prohibition order against the conservancy to use a drone, which was purchased and had initial approvals for use, aimed to strengthen aerial surveillance and to help identify intruders.

This government is so full of s***’ started one regular source the conversation before continuing ‘They prohibit the use of such unmanned little flying devices on the pretext of security and yet, they themselves cannot assure security. Just look at the ongoing problems in Lamu and Tana River counties and even other parts of the country. They have lost direction completely. It is time they allow conservancies like Ol Pejeta but also others which were so keen to use the same technology to boost their security arrangements and not obstruct them. It is a devastating blow to conservation to lose a female and her one month old calf in one incident of poaching andit shows that unless one uses all the technology available in this day and age we are failing our duty to protect Kenya’s wildlife. I blame not the conservancy but the misguided individuals in our government’. Others voiced similar sentiments, some with reference to the drone prohibition order and others simply by pointing out that the kingpins of poaching are allowed to continue their bloody handiwork with reference to the police’s failure to arrest the big man behind the find of blood ivory last month in Mombasa, where only some footsoldiers were arrested while those pulling the strings behind the scenes are left untouched.

It is these paradoxes the conservation fraternity in Kenya has to fight against, not just against poaching per se but also the government apparatus which often appears either complicit or complacent when such crimes are reported.

Ol Pejeta is home to some 130 Eastern Black, Southern White and Northern White rhinos, the largest number of Eastern Black rhinos on a private conservancy, and has established itself as a destination in its own right on the Laikipia plains with all the big five ‘in attendance’ on the 90.000+ acres estate.

The full statement received from Ol Pejeta is shown below and deep regrets expressed to Richard and his team of dedicated rangers and staff, many personally known to this correspondent from past visits. For more information about the conservancy click on www.olpejetaconservancy.org

Poaching Incident on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Dear Friend of Ol Pejeta,

At 7.00 pm on Thursday 17th July 2014, the Ol Pejeta rhino patrol team reported gunshots near Buffalo Plain. As per protocol, the Security Department immediately dispatched a response team. Unfortunately, the poachers escaped and managed to injure one rhino.

The targeted animal was an eight year old female black rhino named Malkia, who had birthed her first calf exactly a month prior to the attack (June 17th, 2014). During the attack, the calf was separated from her mother and ran into a pride of lions. She was killed.

Tragically, Malkia also died. She succumbed to her injuries a day after the attack.

We remain devastated by this loss and you can rest assured that we will continue to review and improve every aspect of our security operations. Today, poaching has reached unprecedented highs. As the price of rhino horn has surpassed that of gold, poachers are willing to take greater risks.

Please do not hesitate to contact our CEO, Richard Vigne, if you have any questions about this incident. He can be reached on richard.vigne.

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