Black Rhino Numbers Dwindle

In 1970, Kenya had over 20,000 rhino's in the Mara Region and almost a third of the Africa population of black rhinos was in Kenya. The population has gone down to less than 400 over the last five decades, this is one of the most dramatic declines of any large mammal in the last century.

"If we lose this species, it means we are losing our heritage and we therefore as Kenyan's must come together and conserve the black rhinos that we have remaining," Species Manager Robert Nedeti of WWF Kenya emphasised.

After tranquilising the great beasts, a team of researchers, vets and technicians drill a tiny hole in the horn and insert a microchip. Another is implanted into the body and a unique pattern is drawn on the ears, to help the WWF to identify their species. From the information they collect they can assess how each rhino is doing, in what conservationists say is an essential operation to protect this endangered species.

"Doing this microchipping will help very much. When a horn can be traced back, we may be able to prosecute anyone hunting the rhino," states Emmanuel Kinayia, Warden for the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

The procedure is harmless and the result of a team effort involving researchers, veterinarians, aircraft personnel, technicians and helicopter pilots.

Senior Scientist Raj Amin-Zsl is hopeful that the efforts of the team will be successful: "The dedication of the Kenya Wildlife Service and the support organisations are putting enormous efforts in to conserve this charismatic umbrella species. I am fully confident with the team and the efforts being put in to conserve the rhino will be successful."