Last night an attempted murder took place on the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy.
A gang came in shortly after midnight and fired some shots.
The Conservancy’s security force acted swiftly. Within minutes Peter Fundi the Orphanage’s superintendent (who sleeps in the Orphanage “just in case”) was first on the scene. After securing the immediate surroundings and making sure none of our men were hurt, his next move was to check on our pair of Rhinoceros.
Rhino as you probably know are an endangered species. They are hunted for their horn which brings thousands of $$$$$ when exported to the East where they may become dagger handles or ground into “medicine” said to have aphrodisiac powers.
This is precisely why we have trained our pair, although they are wild and free ranging by day, at night they are rewarded with sugarcane when they return to their “safe-house.” This is a corral opposite the Orphanage and close to our security force. Fundi had last checked on them before retiring late that night and all was well.
The Rhino had vanished. So had whoever fired the shots.
Meanwhile, Bunge, the Wildlife Manager and David McConnell who heads our Wildlife Education Center had joined Fundi and the men in a search across the Ranch. They had to be careful as they knew they could now be the assassins targets. Several hours went by. Finally the brave men managed to locate the two precious animals, even in the darkness of the African bush. They had traveled some distance, but to everyone’s relief, they appeared to be safe and sound. Although confused and refusing to go back to the scene of the attack, at least they were alive.
Our men were joined by armed scouts from the Kenya Wildlife Service. One group stayed in the bush guarding the bewildered animals for the remainder of the night.
Help from a neighboring farm had by now arrived. They brought with them their team of trained bloodhounds and handlers.
The dogs were given the scent of the still fresh footprints of the gang near the Rhino corral. Led by Bunge the team followed the eager dogs. They ran towards the forest and then uphill on the heavily forested mountain slopes. The dogs did not tire until they had found a group of people huddled up at a place called Ontuleli several hours later.
Police were called in and took away the suspects who carried a rifle, a G3.
Meanwhile David McConnell, the head of our Wildlife Education Center went to check on the Rhino at first light. Although they appeared to be okay, in the early morning light he was able to see that one, the female, hat a gunshot wound in her shoulder. She did not appear to be in any pain.
Don Hunt, traveling overseas for medical treatment was swiftly contacted and has been on the phone ever since. Under his direction security has been further tightened.
Eventually the animals calmed and could be persuaded to return to their corral, following the keepers whom they know and trust. Tomorrow the female Rhino will be immobilized and removal of the bullet will be attempted by the vets.
That’s all we know for now folks. The Kenya Police will establish if the bullets matches the suspects rifle. Meanwhile they are doing their own investigations to establish who may be behind all this. Let us hope that this time the culprits will end up behind bars and further tragedies can be averted.
Don and I would like to thank all involved for their dedication and swift and brave response. Without their help these Rhino might have become yet another poaching statistic.
Watch this space for more news when we have some.