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.
At least 20 northern white rhinos, the most endangered rhino subspecies, have survived the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Four babies have been born since the conflict abated in May 1997. Congo's Garamba National Park contains the world's only remaining northern white rhinos. An estimated 27 to 30 rhinos lived there in 1996, up from 15 a dozen years earlier.
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.