It’s rhinoceroses day and as Reteti community, we are proud of our first black rhino rescue and release, meet Loijipu.
Loijipu is the beloved Reteti black rhino. His name means “to follow,” or “second in line,” and he was named after the area where he was found. He was your typical, albeit very sweet, wild rhino. He stomps his foot and snorts when someone he doesn’t know approaches.
Loijipu came to us when he was only 2 days old. He was tiny, the size of a dinner plate. We could carry him in our arms with ease! He was the first black rhino to be born in a community conservancy in Kenya. He had been abandoned by his mother, who had gone to browse and left him behind in February 2017.
While she was gone, some curious researchers had gotten too close to the newborn. When his mother returned, she could smell the humans on him and rejected him. Black rhinos with their solitary nature, scent marking is often used to identify themselves to other black rhinos and also a form of communication.
Although we wish he had been able to stay with his mother, he had thrived at Reteti and we had treasured him. He adored his three dedicated keepers, especially Mary and follows them everywhere. He got big and strong in their care.
“We rescued Loijipu after he was abandoned by the mother 48 hours after birth,” says Kenya Wildlife Service vet Dr. Mathew Mutinda. “With close monitoring and care at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Namunyak Community Conservancy, he has done well. Now, at one year four months, his wild instincts are starting to kick in. This is a key indicator that the time has come to re-wild the rhino.”
Preparation for his re-introduction back to the wild began early May 2018 and he was smoothly translocated to Sera. Loijipu arrived to a warm welcome by Sera Community Conservancy members.
He has spent the last year and a half being raised by our lovely Mary. She accompanied him on his journey to sera and stayed with him for two months while pregnant as he was getting familiar with the new surrounding of wild life. After Mary gave birth, she named her baby girl “Naijipu” after Loijipu which is more of the same name but of a female make in Samburu.
Mary finally handed him over to Salome Lemalasia a keeper at Sera rhino sanctuary on the 6th June.
Salome is with Loijipu at Sera Rhino Sanctuary
“I have developed over time a very close relationship with Loijipu, he has given me passion and by best friend in the world” says Salome.
Loijipu is currently 3 years 7 months old. Due to black rhino nature and their need to mark and own territories, Loijipu is now living on his own, in a fenced territorial area with close monitor by the rangers at Sera rhino sanctuary.
Loijipu is growing stronger and has started to display characteristics of a wild black rhino. He is friendly but gets aggressive at times.
Black rhinos are among the species whose numbers have greatly decreased due to poaching and habitat loss, the good news is their population is steadily recovering. Kenya has lost wildlife in the past years, with conservation efforts, there are now over 600 black rhinos in Kenya but sadly still endangered.
Photos by Vivian Jebet