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Footage shows critically endangered rhino return to its native habitat after 50-year absence: 'The animal almost went extinct'

"Our collective successes will be a lasting legacy for future generations."

"Our collective successes will be a lasting legacy for future generations."

Photo Credit: iStock

The black rhino returned to its "rightful habitat" for the first time in 50 years thanks to the efforts of Kenya's Wildlife Service.

In February, Reuters reported that 21 of the critically endangered creatures were released into the Loisaba Conservancy, located in Laikipia, over a three-week period at the beginning of the year, with overcrowding at other sanctuaries factoring into the decision. 

According to The Nature Conservancy, the rhinos will benefit from the increased space at Loisaba, which spans 58,000 acres, because it will limit territorial fighting that hinders breeding. 

"All through the transportation process, and even after, we still have a team that is on the ground. … It's easy now even to track them, so it's easy to monitor them going forward," Isaac Lekolool, a senior veterinary officer for Kenya's Wildlife Service, told Reuters.

The outlet noted that "the animal almost went extinct in the 1980s," with the number of black rhinos once being as few as 300. Illegal poaching led to the deaths of thousands of the creatures, which were coveted in parts of Asia for their hornsonce thought to contain medicinal value. 

As detailed by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the United States has also played an often overlooked role in harmful wildlife practices, as the country is "one of the largest consumers of smuggled wildlife and wildlife products, including rhino horn."

Today, Kenya has more than 1,000 black rhinos, and the government is optimistic the population can double by 2037. 

"I'm incredibly heartened that poaching, which wreaked havoc on our rhino populations, has dramatically decreased," Munira Bashir, The Nature Conservancy's Kenya Program director, said in a statement published by the nonprofit. 

"While we've successfully managed poaching, recent resurgence in South African countries is a reminder not to relent. The government, through my Ministry, is committed to providing resources for rhino conservation," Dr. Alfred N. Mutua, Kenya's cabinet secretary for tourism and wildlife, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

"Our collective successes will be a lasting legacy for future generations," he added.

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