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Rhino Cement Foundation Names Baby Black Rhino in a Unique Ceremony on Lewa

September 02, 2013

In a colourful, symbolic occasion that united conservation, industry, culture and politics, Lewa's youngest orphan calf acquired a name and a new family. The Rhino Cement Foundation, a charity funded by ARM Cement Ltd, adopted the baby rhino who they named 'Kilifi' in honour of Kilifi County, the location of their first cement plant. Speaking at the naming ceremony, ARM Cement Chief Executive Officer Pradeep Paunrana said the decision to sponsor the calf hinges on the company’s corporate environment sustainability efforts which include a commitment to conserve the country’s rhinos whose population has drastically declined due to rampant poaching.   

Officiating at the ceremony were Kaya elders from the Mijikenda community in Kilifi. The highly respected elders act as protectors of their communities' forests, ecosystems, values and traditions and throughout generations have practised conservation. 

"Who better to lead a naming ceremony for a rhino whose species is facing extinction? The Kaya are a perfect example of community-led conservation." Mr. Paunrana explained as the ceremony began. 

The elders were not the only esteemed guests at the event. In attendance were political leaders from Kilifi County- His Excellency the Governor Amason Kingi, Senator Steve Mdzayo and the national Principal Secretary from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Richard Lesiyampe. The leaders reiterated the government's commitment to fight illegal killing of wildlife, with the Principal Secretary promising the implementation of strict anti-poaching laws. 

Maasai elders from Lewa's neighbouring Leparua community, who, like the Kaya play a great role in upholding positive values in the community were also present. Lewa staff, including the CEO Mike Watson, played host to the visitors.

After speeches by the guests, the baby rhino was brought out by his keepers to officially receive his 'name'. Despite being surrounded by the largest number of people since his birth, young Kilifi kept calm as the elders placed their traditional 'kanga' on him and issued numerous blessings. "He knows we're his friends", one elder said with a wink.

"While back home in Kilifi, it will be great to know that we have one of our own all the way in northern Kenya and will constantly inquire on his well-being", the governor stated in his closing remarks.