Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A rough year for Laikipia rhinos

I visited Ol Pejeta Conservancy twice during my last visit to Kenya, but only briefly each time. One time, my friend wanted to check out their chimpanze sanctuary. Poo-flinging primates don't really intrigue me, so I hung out at the gate and chatted with the guards for about 45 minutes, after checking out the waterbuck, zebras and impala nearby.

The other time was far, far cooler. We went and visited Morani the (tame) black rhino. It was one of the highlights of my 10-day trip around Laikipia. I just learned that Morani recently died, evidently of old age. Here's me with Morani taking a nap. He was supremely unconcerned with people, unless you made loud, high-pitched noises (like my friend accidentally did). He had armed body-guards 24-hours a day, and had learned his name. From the sounds of it, you'd have to be a rock not to learn your name, after hearing it pretty much every half hour for 20 years. The rangers said it that often, even when no one was around, just to let Morani know they were there. Rhinos evidently have very poor memories, as well as poor eye-sight, and you don't want a rhino forgetting you're there, and then thinking you've snuck up on him.

Sounds like it's been a tough year for owned rhinos in the Laikipia area. Big Mama, a white rhino at the Mt. Kenya Animal Orphanage that I also got to see briefly, got shot in a poaching attempt, but is expected to make a full recovery. Good thing skilled and committed staff were on hand, after midnight, to chase off and track down the would-be poachers. Poachers are usually very dangerous people.

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Blogger Nicholas Provenzo said...

Awesome photo!

October 22, 2008 at 8:20 PM  

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