The Rhino Sanctuary in Lake Nakuru National Park
The Rhino Sanctuary in Lake Nakuru National Park was the first Rhino sanctuary in Kenya and is currently home to the largest number of black rhinos in the country. The rhino sanctuary was established in 1984 when the first two rhinos were introduced to the lake Nakuru National Park grounds.
The sanctuary started with 2 adult rhinos that were translocated from Lewa Downs and Kitengala and gradually other rhinos were added on, to date over 100 rhinos have been added to the sanctuary and it currently boasts about 150 or more rhinos.
The rhino sanctuary in Lake Nakuru National Park was established as an initiative by the Kenyan government to address the catastrophic decline in the endangered rhino species that was happening in the wild across Kenya.
The Kenyan government started the initiative of conversing rhinos with a strategy to erect fenced areas for these endangered animals across the country to protect them from poachers that were continuously killing the already endangered animals.
In a partnership with the Rhino Rescue Charitable Appeal Trust, the Kenya government established the first rhino sanctuary in Lake Nakuru National Park that was officially opened in 1987. At the official opening of the sanctuary 17 rhinos from a private ranch in solio were added the 2 rhinos that were already in the park and later 11 more rhinos were added to the sanctuary.
Lake Nakuru National Park was chosen as the first Rhino sanctuary because it was already a bird sanctuary and it had the needed land for the rhinos to be relocated at the time. Also because rhinos need water every day, the presence of the lake made it advantageous for rhinos to make their life in the park; the vegetation in the park is also suitable for both the white and black rhinos, so Lake Nakuru National Park was and still is the perfect place for the rhino sanctuary.
Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the 23 game parks in Kenya covering a total area of 188km2, 40km2 of which are covered by the popular lake Nakuru and the rest of the land being savannah woodlands and busy grasslands. The park is home to over 400 bird species and over 50 mammals including the rhinos. The park is located 140km north west of Nairobi city in central Kenya in the Great Rift Valley.
When Rhinos were introduced to Lake Nakuru National Park, the Kenyan government started implementing its strategy of constructing an electric fence around the park to enhance the objective of the all rhino conservation vision. A 188 km2 fence was constructed around Lake Nakuru National Park and to date the park is enclosed by that fence. The fence is made of wooden posts, high-tensile steel wire and electrical insulators. This fence was specifically made electric to keep intruders out of the sanctuary as well as keep the rhinos within the bounds of the sanctuary.
When the rhinos arrive in the park they are acclimatized in the holding pens for some weeks and after they are released into the wild with the others that are already in the sanctuary. The acclimatisation helps the animals adjust well to the new park and environment as well as blend in with the other rhinos with less or no fights.
Because it’s a sanctuary, records are maintained for each rhino that is introduced in the park for tracking purposes on how the rhino is adjusting to the new environment and other necessary information. The tracking also helps the sanctuary management to plan and cater for the needs of the rhinos accordingly.
Rhinos are huge mammals only second to elephants in size, they are also part of the big five animals of the wild because of their aggressive nature when attacked by predators or poachers; otherwise on an ordinary day, rhinos are very calm and social animals. Black rhinos feed in bushy areas well as the white rhinos feed in grassland areas and both rhino species cannot live a day without water, thus their need to be close to a water body all the time.
Currently the rhino sanctuary in Lake Nakuru National Park boasts 150 rhinos with 80% being white rhinos and 20% being black rhinos. The Rhino sanctuary also hosts the rare rothchild’s giraffe and on a visit to Lake Nakuru National Park, you will be sure to see all these rhinos together with many more mammals and birds that live in this premium park.