Kenya: Borana Conservancy
Borana Conservancy can be considered one of newest rhino conservancies in Africa. After 15 years of planning and preparations, Borana received 21 critically endangered black rhinos during translocation efforts in August 2013. Working together with Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service, 11 rhino were translocated from neighbouring Lewa, and a further 10 black rhino from Lake Nakuru National Park. This is the first time rhinos have roamed in Borana for over 50 years. Soon after the translocations, one female gave birth to a rhino calf.
Originally a cattle ranch, Borana was established as a wildlife conservancy in 1993 with the completion of one of Kenya’s first eco-lodges. Borana Conservancy was a founder member of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, and as such has been at the forefront of conservation efforts in the region.
Staff: Michael Dyer (Managing Director) Sam Taylor (Project Manager)
Location: Laikipia County, central Kenya, in close proximity to other rhino sanctuaries: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Jogi, Solio Game Reserve and Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Species: Eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli)
Habitat: Borana Conservancy consists of 32,000 acres of arid grassland habitat. Borana takes its name from the native Boran cattle farmed on these lands
Why support this programme?
The translocation of rhinos to the Borana Conservancy comes at a crucial time when Kenya urgently needs more suitable, secure habitat for its black rhino populations. Poaching and the lack of available habitat are the two greatest threats to the recovery of black rhino numbers in Kenya. The 2013 translocations will help reduce population pressure on Lewa’s rhino population, and the rhinos will be able to thrive in 32,000 acres of native habitat in Borana Conservancy. The primary impact of this translocation to Borana, and eventual removal of the fence between Borana and Lewa, will be the creation of a vast 94,000-acre private sanctuary and a connecting ecosystem which will be beneficial for biological rhino management and other rhino species.
The translocation efforts will contribute to Kenya’s overall rhino strategy which is outlined in its Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya 2012-16. Kenya aims to achieve a short-term goal of 800 black rhino by 2016 with an overall long-term goal of 2,000 black rhino. Achieving these growth rates is only possible by opening up new habitat areas such as Borana Conservancy.
The conservation of rhino is two-fold: the biological management and monitoring of rhino and anti-poaching. Both require large numbers of highly trained and above all, trustworthy personnel to perform these tasks. The monitoring of rhino involves skilled tracking and perseverance in thick bush. Long hours are spent amongst elephant buffalo and other dangerous animals in the pursuit of identifying and establishing the daily whereabouts and health of each individual rhino. The anti-poaching security team operates almost exclusively at night, in response to current trends of poachers. These men are on the front line and protecting these animals against heavily armed and ruthless gangs, as well as working in harsh, cold and uncomfortable conditions.
The trust placed in all these men is enormous. The temptation to receive large sums of money from poaching gangs for information as to the whereabouts of the rhino is huge, and nearly all incidences of poaching in recent times can be attributed to inside information given to incoming gangs.
As such, there is a huge need to keep our men safe and motivated, both for their welfare and for the welfare of the iconic species they risk their lives to protect. To do this the equipment, training and resources provided to them is paramount, not only to their own safety and their ability to protect rhino, but also towards the self-worth and loyalty they feel towards the difficult task they are faced with. Their loyalty towards the conservation ideal is crucial.
As the newest black rhino conservancy in Africa, Borana is under huge threat. Whilst the preparation of infrastructure and training of the personnel has been ongoing for several years, there is always the threat of the perception of a new conservancy as a “soft target”.
Borana Conservancy’s financial model is primarily based on commerce to run its operational needs. The commerce is derived predominantly from tourism, and with the fickle nature of the industry there are inevitably peaks and troughs in revenue due to factors beyond its control, including political instability, terrorism and global economic downturns that massively (and unpredictably) affect revenue.
In a bid to ensure that these factors do not hinder our ability to protect rhino, Borana seeks help with funding to provide its men with the best training and equipment possible to counter this threat, even when the revenue streams are low. In doing so it can ensure that its role in saving these incredible animals from extinction is never compromised.