The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the World Wide Fund for Nature in Kenya (WWF-Kenya) have embarked on a major exercise of tracking and ear-notching the endangered black rhino around the Maasai Mara national reserve in western Kenya.
The exercise involves fixing a microchip in the rhino’s horns and notching their ears as one way of protecting them from poachers. This follows reports that the animals are in great danger of extinction because of the high demand for their horns as trophies.
According to Martin Mulama, the WWF-Kenya Rhino programme co-ordinator, 7.0 million shillings (about 69,000 US dollars) have been allocated towards the unique ten-day exercise which will help enhance monitoring of the animals around the park and also improve their security.
“The black rhino is an endangered species in Africa due to increased cases of poaching and the current exercise will help security officers to easily monitor and track these animals,” said
Mulama, who added that the conservation body and other stakeholders would later conduct an audit of all the rhinos in the Mara.
KWS Senior Veterinary Officer Isaac Lekolool, who is leading the exercise, said the transmitters would help reduce chances of poachers targeting the animals.
He noted that rhinos were some of the wild animals that faced high chances of poaching. “The demand for rhino trophies is high due to the myth that its horn has medicinal value but with the current technology we shall easily monitor them,” he said.
Lekolool noted that they were using the exercise to also collect biological samples for their forensic laboratory which could be used in strengthening their court cases