The safety of threatened rhinos has been given a huge boost with grants from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation.
It has funded two key projects that will protect black and white rhino populations across Kenya which are being ruthlessly targeted by poachers.
The devastating trade has left many young rhinos orphaned and vulnerable without the protection of their parents
The animals are prized for their horns which are sold in some Asian countries as a status symbol or for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
YWPF funds will support anti-poaching initiatives and fund the construction of the two new enclosures, called bomas, to facilitate care for injured or orphaned rhinos requiring veterinary treatment or hand-rearing.
Kenya’s rhino population is recovering from an all-time low of 280 in the 1980s but a surge in poaching is threatening to reverse conservation gains throughout the last decade.
“We are delighted to make grants to protect these wonderful animals,” said Cheryl Williams, Trustee of the Foundation, which is based at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
“We are proud to be funding two Save the Rhino International schemes that will enhance the security and welfare of wildlife. Our aim as a Foundation is to raise awareness and take practical steps to protect endangered species.
“These projects will have huge impact and we know that our supporters will also be delighted that our grants will have an impact on the ground in Africa.”
The grants will support security at the Ol Jogi Game Reserve and neighbouring conservation projects against poaching syndicates.
A Foundation grant of £9,388 will provide vital funds for a construction of the bomas.
A further grant of £5,000 will aid improvements in Ol Jogi’s communication systems, including digital radios, so staff can keep track of poaching threats.
The Foundation schemes were welcomed by Cathy Dean, Save the Rhino International CEO, who described the grants as ‘astonishing’.
“We are absolutely delighted to receive such astonishing support from Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation for rhinos in the wild,” added Cathy Dean. “This is the first time we’ve collaborated with the Foundation to provide crucial funding to our programme partners on the ground, who work day in, day out, in the field monitoring, patrolling and protecting rhinos.
“The funding will directly enhance the security and wellbeing of both the staff and wildlife at the Reserve, helping to protect these majestic species in the wild.
“We will be delighted to keep the Foundation and Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s visitors informed on the latest project developments and to provide first-hand updates from our partners on the ground, keeping you in close on how your funds are being spent.”
Staff at Ol Jogi will send back regular reports to keep visitors to the park, at Branton, near Doncaster, informed on project developments.Meanwhile, Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s resident two-and-a-half-year-old black rhinos Hodan and Dayo are settling in well and can often be found outside enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
The once shy half-brothers, who are Critically Endangered black rhinos, arrived at the park six months ago. Now they have become used to their surroundings and are venturing further into their extensive reserve, away from their purpose build house.