Saturday, May 11, 2013

Poachers kill last black rhino at Kenya's Ngwesi game park

May 2013. On the 2nd of April 2013, Omni, the only black rhino on Il Ngwesi Group Ranch was speared to death by poachers. His carcass was found two days later, with a poisoned spear lodged inside his body. His horns were intact. Translocated from Lewa in 2002, Omni's presence to the people of Il Ngwesi was very symbolic. It was a first for rhino conservation in Kenya when the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) agreed to return a black rhino back into a newly established community-owned rhino conservation area. Until the 1970s, the area had a very large black rhino population that completely disappeared after the massive slaughter during the years that followed. Omni's significance in Il Ngwesi could not be overstated; he was the only black rhino to live on the land since the 1970s, and his presence offered the possibility of reintroducing the species to their previous homeland as well as a way to share with the world at large the community's interest in using conservation to promote the welfare of their people and open up new commercial and employment opportunities through conservation. Devastated by Omni's death, the Il Ngwesi community with help from other stakeholders (KWS, NRT, Lewa and Borana Conservancy) immediately launched an investigation into the killing. Community elders called for a meeting and decided to use modern as well as traditional methods to catch the poachers. The elders gave the culprits 10 days (from the 15th to the 24th of April) to confess or face dire consequences, including curses. On the 24th, during the second community meeting, two men confessed to killing Omni. Three other men were also identified to have participated in planning the act. The community has since pressed charges. One suspect is still at large, but four of them have been arraigned in court and have all confessed to the crime. The entire investigation has been a community-led initiative, using the arm of the law alongside a traditional cultural approach to expose the culprits within this small society. The entire process has been driven by the community's deep pride in Omni, recognising the benefits he attracted through tourism and a desire to see an expanding rhino population thrive on Il Ngwesi. Source: Wildlife Extra


  1. Bitterness. How terribly sad. I pray that a better start can be made. The community sounds earnest about its love for the rhino.

  2. Simply indefensible. Lack of consciousness and respect for the sacred nature of life.

    Clare Mann