The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and WWF-Kenya have embarked on a major exercise of tracking and ear-notching the endangered black rhino around Maasai Mara national reserve.
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 were in great danger of extinction due to the high demand for the trophies.
According to Martin Mulama, WWF Kenya Rhino programme coordinator, Sh7m had been allocated towards the unique ten day exercise.
Mulama said that the exercise would 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,” he said.
Mulama 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 led the exercise said that the transmitters would help reduce chances of poachers targeting the animals.
Speaking on the sidelines of the exercise, the senior officer 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.
“The exercise that has been funded by WWF involves fixing a microchip transmitter in the rhinos which will be used to monitor and track the animal,” he said.
The warden in charge of the Rhino programme in the Mara Dennis Maantoi said there was urgent need to stabilize the number of rhinos as their numbers in the continent was on the drop.
He attributed this to increased cases of poaching but was quick to note that the new technology would help stop the illegal vice.
“This technology will help us monitor all the rhinos around Mara triangle where we have come to realize the population of the rhinos is on the rise,” he said.