An unprecedented action took place earlier this year at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy based in northern Kenya: the translocation of black rhinos to Sera Community Conservancy, where rhinos have been absent for 25 years. The move represents the first time in East Africa management of this endangered species is being put in the hands of community leaders instead of scientists and other conservationists.

Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) have declined 90 percent in three generations, and are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Rhino conservationists say translocation to other areas is crucial to their survival, especially as Lewa faces pressure from sustaining a growing and healthy population in comparison to only around 630 individuals in existence across Kenya.

And so, in May, researchers moved 10 rhinos to Sera Community Conservancy.

“Sera [rhino translocation] has been a project in the making for the last five years,” said Ian Lemaiyan, rhino scientist in Lewa’s research department. “In the 80s and 90s rhino populations in Kenya had plummeted to a depressing number. [Sera is] among the last areas in northern Kenya for rhino to be translocated to save them from extinction.”

This report was originally published in Mongobay and republished by an agreement to share content.

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