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May 13, 2006

Very sincere and deserved thanks to everybody involved in both direct and indirect management of rhinos on Lewa. Your concerted efforts and support, this has ensured that black rhino numbers on the Conservancy have hit 50!

On 2nd May 2006, a 1-day old calf was sighted ambling behind one of the females, Meluaya, and this now brings Lewa's total black rhino count to 50.. This was the 56th calf to have been born on Lewa since the inception of Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary in 1984.

We on Lewa, and I believe everybody else in the rhino fraternity together with our very committed supporters, consider this as a significant milestone. Lewa is now the second (non State rhino Sanctuary), after Solio Game Reserve, with the highest number of black rhinos in Kenya.

The following is some interesting data about the current population of black rhinos in Lewa today:
*** The Conservancy holds approximately 10% of the national rhino population and is amongst the top performers in the country.
*** Six calves have already been born in Lewa since the start of the year. Another female is expected to calve before the close of the year.
*** Annual growth rate is 12% which is way above the 5% targeted in the National Rhino Strategy Plan of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
*** Inter-calving intervals have been reduced to a mean of 2.6 years. In fact, in the last one year, two females had their last calving intervals at 1.5 years. This is quite a remarkable considering that the gestation period of black rhinos is 16 months.
*** At 5.4 years, we believe that one of our females is the youngest known to have ever calved in Kenya. Still, we have other females that have given birth at 5.5 years old.
*** Currently, the Conservancy has four living generations of rhinos. The first, fourth generation calf was born in May 2006.
*** The ecological carrying capacity estimated at 53 rhinos is almost reached. In order to keep the population healthy and breeding, there will be need to remove some animals to keep social pressures down.

The above statistics though very alluring have only challenged us to increase our resolve to continue providing maximum security and biological monitoring on rhinos within the Conservancy, and collaborate with the Kenya Wildlife Service and other private sanctuaries in Kenya whose rhino stock is still vulnerable to poaching. Similarly, finding suitable and contiguous areas where excess animals from Lewa can spill over and colonise is a real challenge and we hope to make headways with our neighbours to the north and west.