Arusha. The population of the critically endangered black rhino in the Ngorongoro crater is rising, thanks to intensified patrol against poachers.
“One of the positive indicators of our conservation efforts is the increase in the number of rhinos”, the chief conservator Freddy Manongi said recently.
Without giving figures, the conservator said no serious incidences of other threatened animals killed by poachers have been reported lately.
“Until June this year, only one elephant has been killed by the poachers in the entire Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA)”, he told journalists who visited the site recently.
He added that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) has lately purchased 15 vehicles for its anti-poaching patrol teams.
The Ngorongoro crater, the Amphitheatre-like caldera in the heart of the highlands, is the home of the rhinos re-introduced some years ago after the original animals were wiped out by poachers some years back.
The animals, hunted down for their treasured horns, are highly protected through a 24 hour camera surveillance, among other high tech gear.
Despite their limited number, rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are now among the beasts attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the crater floor each year.
The exact number of rhinos being nurtured in various wildlife sanctuaries in the country has often remained a secret.
However,a wildlife expert from the University of Dar es Salaam was quoted early this year saying the number of the protected rhinos in Ngorongoro alone may have climbed to a few dozen now. Accounts had it that the famous crater had a total of 108 rhinos in 1968, later dropping sharply to 25 in 1977.
Re-introduction of the rhinos specifically in the crater began in the 1990s through the support of the international conservation bodies. ith the endangered animals well secured inside the crater, two years ago NCAA formed a special anti-poaching unit to curb the killing of animals outside the protected area.
The new development came after the killing of eight lions and 25 elephants outside its fringes in 2015. “Poaching of animals outside our conservation area is equally worrying”, Dr Manongi told reporters, adding the NCA had a force of about 250 rangers.
He nevertheless attributed the increased killings of lions, in particular, to revenge by the livestock keepers living within the area and who had their animals attacked or mauled by the big cats.