AWF has supported rhino conservation efforts since 1979. Recently AWF's Mark R. Stanley Price, director of African operations, and Philip Muruthi, coordinator of the Species and Ecosystems program, visited two rhino projects in Kenya's Tsavo National Park and found out for themselves the rewards and rigors of rhino monitoring. Following are excerpts from Stanley Price's report.
By Mark R. Stanley Price
Our first destination was "Oliver's camp," which lies on a natural water line, a vivid gash of green in an otherwise parched landscape in Tsavo East.
Lions, eradicated from Lake Mburo National Park in southwestern Uganda some 20 years ago, may be returning.
About half a dozen sightings have been made in recent years, reports Mark Infield, AWF's technical adviser to the Uganda Wildlife Authority for community conservation.
AWF President Michael Wright was among experts from several conservation organizations invited to brief White House officials on environmental and food-security issues in Africa prior to President Clinton's landmark trip to the continent in late March.
Kenya experienced its first rhino poaching in several years with the killing of three rhinos in February.
The incidents occurred at two private sanctuaries about 30 miles apart. Two white rhinos were killed at the Solio Ranch, but their horns were not taken. The horns had been removed from a black rhino carcass found at Ol Pejeta Ranch.
There is no evidence the crimes were committed by the same person or persons, and no arrests have yet been made. The Kenya Wildlife Service has tightened security at all sanctuaries, and no further poaching has been reported.
How are elephants affected by the ecosystems in which they live and by upheavals in their families? What impact do the elephants have on their habitat and neighboring human communities?
The answers to these questions hold a key to the African elephant's long-term survival--and researcher Charles Foley hopes to find them. A Princeton University doctoral candidate who has been studying elephants for nearly a decade, Foley is conducting--with AWF support--a two-year study of the elephants in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park to learn more about the elephant's role in the ecosystem.