Kenya Wildlife Service began ear notching of black rhinos in Tsavo East National Park

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is undertaking ear notching exercise of the black rhino-fitting of horn transmitters and microchips in Tsavo East National Park.

This is a routine management intervention in the free-ranging population as part of the implementation of the Black Rhino Recovery and Action Plan 2017-2021 launched in 2016.

Kenya conserves 75% of the eastern black rhino subspecies Diceros bicornis michaeli in the world. The International Union for Conservation Nature (UICN 2020) listed this species of elephant among the critically endangered species that require urgent global attention.

The 2017-2021 Action Plan was developed and implemented as a result of high poaching between 2012-2016

The Action Plan seeks to increase rhino numbers by a minimum of 5% in established populations with a national Metapopulation of 830 animals by 2021, and eventually 2000 animals residing in its natural habitat.

The Tsavo East Nation Park Assistant Director Capt. Kenneth Ochieng revealed they had targeted 12 rhinos in the exercise but had managed to get six since the exercise started.

He noted that the initial target number changed to 10 because it was established that two rhinos were heavily pregnant and one had a day-old baby prompting the change

The exercise entails giving each rhino a unique identification feature by cutting off a combination of a small section(s) of the ear in a V shape. This enhances rhino monitoring and provides accurate population estimates.

The exercise is being undertaken with aircraft support from stakeholders such as the National Department of Kenya Wildlife Service and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

The exercise is undertaken at a time when Kenya has made significant steps in managing rhino poaching with no case reported in the year 2020. This is a milestone achievement in fulfilling the Black Rhino Recovery and Action plan goal for the period 2017-2021.

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