Kenya: Borana Conservancy
In 2013, black rhinos were reintroduced to Borana Conservancy — the first time rhinos had roamed on its land for more than 50 years.
Borana is one of Africa’s newest rhino conservancies, and one of its most successful. It took 15 years of planning and preparations but, in 2013, the team finally successfully relocated 21 Critically Endangered black rhinos from neighbouring Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Lake Nakuru National Park. This was a huge undertaking, made all the more worthwhile when, soon after the rhinos had settled into their new surroundings, a new rhino calf was born.
Rhino habitat is in short supply
Kenya’s wildlife authorities’ long-term aim to increase the country’s black rhino population to 2,000 animals. As well as the ever-constant threat of illegal poaching for rhino horn, the country has lost rhino habitat to the extent that achieving this population growth would be impossible without creating large-scale new habitats with round-the-clock protection.
Borana Conservancy consists of 32,000 acres of arid grassland in Kenya’s Laikipia region. Borana is named after the native Boran cattle farmed on these lands by herders. Laikipia is famous for its wildlife conservancies, many of which – like Borana – started life as cattle ranches and were converted into wildlife havens and eco-tourism lodges throughout the 20th century. Borana is near to Ol Jogi, Solio Game Reserve and Ol Pejeta, all famous for their rhinos. Its closest neighbour, however, is Lewa which, since the 1980s, has continued to protect a thriving black rhino population.
In 2013, the dividing fence between Lewa and Borana was taken down to open up a combined 94,000 new sanctuary, connecting the neighbouring ecosystems and providing enough space to continue to ensure Kenya’s rhino population can continue to grow.
Like all rhino conservation projects, the team at Borana have to manage and monitor the population and provide veterinary care if a rhino or calf is sick or injured. And, to counter the threat of poaching, they need to invest in security including rangers.
Poaching and other threats
Making sure Conservancies have no leaks from their employees, and also that local communities living nearby don’t share information with poachers, but instead tell rangers about any suspicious activity, is of utmost importance.
Furthermore, the Laikipia region has suffered from drought and political instability in recent times, particularly in election years. Cattle are of huge importance to local communities dependent on livestock for the local economy. Grazing land is in short supply, and tensions amongst different ethnic and political groups have flared.
Against this backdrop, Borana is one of many wildlife havens that actively works with neighbouring communities to allow managed grazing within the Conservancy, thus generating income for the herders and a small share in profits from livestock sales for Borana, while the cattle dung enriches the grassland for all species.
How your support helps
Save the Rhino’s support has focused on helping keep rangers at Borana safe and motivated – both for their own welfare whilst working under tough conditions – but also for the welfare of the rhinos they protect.
Save the Rhino funds equipment to help rangers – from the basics like better backpacks and boots – to training and new ranger accommodation to provide some comfort after long days out on patrol.
We also fund the Rhino Dog Squad, units of tracking and detection dogs based at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Jogi and Ol Pejeta Conservancies, which not only help catch poachers but have also been deployed to find lost children and stolen livestock or property.
Kenya has tightened its wildlife laws and started taking rhino poaching and the illegal trafficking of rhino horn much more seriously. Some good convictions have seen poachers sentenced to many years in prison. With your help, the team at Borana can have the best chance possible to stop the crime before it happens – and, when it does, ensure poachers feel the full force of the law.