Samburu: Rescued ‘Baby’ Rhino Returns to the wild

The 6th of June 2018 marked a very special date in Sera, Northern Kenya as the Sera Conservancy Community welcomed the return of the much-loved black rhino calf, ‘Loijupu’. Loijupu was found by Sera Rangers 16 months ago in the 54,000 hectares-large, community-owned rhino sanctuary that lies within Sera Community Conservancy, having been abandoned by his mother ‘Nairenyu’ on account of her being startled by something only a few hours after giving birth, running away in fright. (Image: Reteti carers bidding farewell to Loijupu. Credit: NRT)

When the mother didn’t return, Loijupu was taken in by Reteti Elephant Sanctuary where he has been looked after by the incredibly dedicated team of vets and keepers for almost a year and a half with round-the-clock monitoring and careful handling of all the sensitive elements that come with raising a new-born rhino calf. Thanks to their expert care,Loijupu has grown into a fine specimen, enabling him to overcome his ordeal. When his wild instincts started to become apparent, all experts involved agreed it was time for Loijupu to follow his calling and continue his path back to paradise – the Sera Wild – which he calls home(Image: Loijupu when rescued as a newborn. Credit: NRT)

With the incredible joint efforts of Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Kenya Wildlife Service and Northern Rangelands Trust, Loijupu returned to Sera with a team of Samburu rangers welcoming him home after hours of patiently luring him into his transportation crate, adamant he was not to be sedated during the experience.  The successful operation team was led by led by Dr. Mathew Mutinda from the Kenya Wildlife Service. Sera Community Conservancy Manager Reuben Lendira says “The return of Loijupu is an increase in wildlife numbers and it is not only highly beneficial to the biodiversity of the ecosystem but also a boost to community conservation efforts, It is also leading to community empowerment through continued tourism.” (Image: Loijupu back on Sera-land after 16 months. Credit: NRT)

We are sure that Loijupu will lead a fulfilled and wonderful lifealongside his relatives and companions. Being one of the first rhinos born at Sera Community Conservancy, Loijupu will go down in the history books and his survival throughout the ordeal is a blessing. Nairenyu, his mother was one of ten black rhinos translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and we hope in the future there may be a possibility of these two to reunite.

What an exceptional effort from all involved executing a hugely successful rehabilitation, ensuring Loijupu his second chance at life. We are so grateful to all those who continue to sacrifice it all for the ongoing protection of our wildlife(Image: Loijupu checking out his territory. Credit: NRT)

At Saruni Rhino, we are thrilled to have him back! Across the period of a year, Loijupu will slowly be re-integrated into the wild making the total population of rhino at 13 at the first ever community-owned rhino sanctuary with which Saruni has partnered in creating revenue through tourism in order to facilitate these remarkable conservation efforts– offering guests an amazing walking safari that provides a uniquely thrilling adventure, but also allows our guests to actively contribute to the protection of this iconic species. Guests are able to track these rhino on-foot with an expert Saruni guide and a highly-trained Sera Community Conservancy ranger, equipped with a transmitter correlating to the GPS whereabouts of the rhino throughout the sanctuary. (Image: Loijupu cooling down with this monitors. Credit: NRT)

Sera Community Conservancy in Samburu forms part of a large rangeland belonging to three main pastoralist tribes of North Kenya. In the past, these tribes have had many ethnic conflicts through increased pressure on natural resources and grazing land for their cattle in the harsh terrain. These tribes manage and protect the eco-system that consists of a mighty 345,000 hectares. The conservancy proved to unite these tribes to such a success that May 2015 saw the opening of Sera Rhino Sanctuary. The rhino sanctuary forms a sanctuary within the conservancy forms 54,000 hectares of fenced and monitored land for wildlife. This remarkable event made headlines becoming the first community conservancy in East Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino, seeing the first rhino returning to Northern Kenya in over 40 years.