2020 was a remarkable year for rhino protection in Kenya where not one single rhino lost its horn or lost its life last year—a feat not achieved since 1999.
Travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic was just one of the contributing factors. Other interventions include tackling poverty in nearby rural areas and increasing policing efforts to seize rhino horns being trafficked in the last few years.
In a statement, Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) Director retired-Brigadier General John Waweru said, “For the first time in 21 years, KWS reported zero poaching of rhinos in the year 2020. The last time this feat was achieved was in 1999.”
Rhinos aren’t the only animal benefiting from more stringent policing and lockdown measures. Elephants with their ivory tusks have experienced a marvellous reprieve in 2020.
Poaching of the two species hit a peak in 2012 and 2013, but since then elephant deaths have plummeted by 97% to a record of 11 nationwide in 2020—the lowest ever in KWS history.
South Africa, which contains 80% of all African rhinos on Earth, also reported some good news this week for the magnificent species.
The Ministry of Environment reported a 33% drop in the number of rhinos poached in the world-famous Kruger National Park last year.
2020 was the 6th year in a row in which rhino poaching incidents fell there—and since 2017, they have plummeted by 60%.’