This group of pages contains information related to rhino conservation.
The David Sheldrick Trust was one of the first organisations to alert the world to the plight of the Black Rhino in Kenya after two decades of rampant poaching that all but annihilated the species within the country's established National Parks and remote unprotected areas in the North. We provided emergency funding for surveillance and the protection of the few rhinos remaining on Private Land and Co-ordinated joint action by what became known as the "Rhino Action Group" which was comprised of all concerned conservation organisations within Kenya. Through The Rhino Action Group, having sought an audience with the President to solicit his backing, the Government was spurred into taking urgent measures to retrieve the species from the brink of extinction.
The Trust then refurbished the Wildlife Department's Capture Unit, purchased up-market travelling crates, financed the construction of temporary Holding Enclosures and a Loading Sledge, funded outside veterinary expertise and immobilising drugs; provided ground to air radio communication for the Capture Unit, repaired the Wildlife Department's aircraft radios, and Provided funds for casual workers needed during initial Capture Operations.
Through the expertise and personal supervision of Trustee Peter Jenkins, (Daphne Sheldrick's brother), Kenya's first fenced Nigh Security Special Rhino Sanctuary came into being in Lake Nakuru National Park, a conservation strategy that has since been emulated elsewhere in Africa. The Trust funded a mineral survey of the area prior to the introduction of the first rhinos, funded a monitoring project, repaired the Park's road equipment and provided funding to run the Sanctuary at a time when no allowance had been made for it within the official budget.
Thanks to the initiative taken by another Trustee, the late Bill Woodley, and in conjunction with the Eden wildlife Trust and the African Wildlife Foundation, the Trust was a major player in the establishment of a second electrically fenced Special Rhino Sanctuary in Tsavo West National Park, thereby securing and bringing together for breeding purposes outlying rhino survivors of the region who would never otherwise have made contact. The day to day running costs of this important Sanctuary were shouldered by the Trust for many years.
The Trust funded the construction of Permanent Rhino Holding Pens needed for relocation purposes at both Solio Ranch in Northern Kenya and within the Nairobi National Park. It also funded mobile Holding Pens in Tsavo East National Park for the free release of rhinos back into what was once the bastion of the species in Africa. At one time Tsavo East alone harboured a population of 8,000 Black Rhino, but these were all but eliminated in during the 70's and 80's as they were in other Parks during the period they were under direct Government control. Uncontrolled poaching and rampant in-house corruption characterised this far from happy era in the history of Kenya's wildlife conservation.
As with the elephant orphans, Daphne Sheldrick was, in the early sixties, the first person to perfect a suitable milk formula and the husbandry necessary to hand rear the orphaned Black Rhino calves. Since then she has reared 10 orphaned Black Rhinos and her expertise in this field has saved many others elsewhere in Africa.
An early orphan named Reudi became the dominant breeding bull of Solio Ranch, by 1985 home to the largest remaining population of Black Rhino left in the country which has yielded rhinos to restock other areas. Currently another two of Daphne's orphans are still held within a 50 acre paddock at Solio Ranch, namely "Stroppie", now in her thirties, and "Pushmi" in his late twenties. It is hoped that one day the Ranch Owner will allow them to be free released back into Tsavo.
The David Sheldrick Trust pioneered the complicated strategy for the successful reintegration of orphaned Black Rhinos back into an already established rhino community, something essential to the success of future relocation. The Trust's orphan "Amboseli", born in 1987 and orphaned when 6 months old, and the last remaining rhino from the once famous population of Amboseli National Park, renowned for horn length, was one of the first to be free released back into Tsavo East National Park, and has since had two calves. Another orphan, Scud, born during the Gulf War in 1991, was also successfully reintegrated into the resident population of Nairobi National Park, became pregnant, but sadly when 9 months pregnant, fell and damaged the radial nerve in the right foreleg, paralysing the leg. Laboriously, she managed to make her way back home using her chin to support her weight an she hopped on three legs. The Trust then nursed her for the next 10 months until the birth of her calf on the 30th January 1997 - a male named "Magnum".
Unhappily, however, the radial nerve did not heal, the shoulder muscles withered and huge pressure sores developed on the injured leg, which stubbornly refused to heal. Since Magnum was a feisty little fellow, and most active at night, galloping around far from his mother, and since Scud could not keep up with him to protect him, we had to face the fact that we risked losing him to predators, and also that his mother was going to be a cripple and as such would never enjoy a true quality of life. Eventually, when Magnum was three weeks old, we took the decision to euthenase Scud and take over the care of her calf.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust P.O. Box 15555 Nairobi Kenya