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130702 1 2 Rhino Mother and Calf Killed by Poachers in Chyulus

Richard Bonham, July 2 2013

More bad on news on the remaining rhinos here in the Chyulus.

Last week, the sound of gunfire was heard by Big Life and KWS rangers at Mukururu in the Chyulu Hills, about FIFTEEN shots just before dusk. The rangers' reaction was instant and efficient: they set up cut off point and ambushes, which led to contact with the poachers, which resulted in an exchange of fire, but no casualties on either side.

The next morning, I watched as KWS mounted a textbook operation with aircraft and reinforcements moving in at first light. We all knew it would not be good news, and by 7pm, two carcasses had been spotted by the KWS aircraft. We went in on the ground, and found a mother rhino and her calf lying dead, faces hacked away, and surrounded by empty AK 47 cartridge cases.

As we looked at the already putrefying bodies, I remembered the elation when we we first picked up the tracks of this very same calf just after he was born, about two years ago. I also remembered looking at pictures from a camera trap, taken not long ago, which showed the mother showing signs of pregnancy. Truly high points in my conservation career. 

Now, after for all our efforts in trying to make them safe, I was overtaken by an overwhelming sense of sadness and failure, not only for the rhino, but also for all of you that have done so much to help us try and protect them.

I am told that a Rhino is being killed on average every eleven hours somewhere in Africa, a current rate that unstopped, will take them to certain extinction. We cannot let that happen, and as one of the rangers said its time to ''kasa moyo''. "Strengthen, resolve, and keep going".

Please help Big Life to keep going, protecting our fellow inhabitants of this remarkable corner of East Africa. Go to www.biglife.org.

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Wildlife Protection/Rhino Project

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