After a series of meetings between the Kenyan Wildlife Service and Mugie a decision was made to remove all rhinos from the Mugie Sanctuary. This was completed in mid January 2012. The poachers were becoming more and more brazen as the price of rhino horn shot up - reports now reaching us have indicated that the the price has risen to an astonishing $50,000 per kilo. KWS had recently increased their armed Special Operations team from 9 to 36 men on Mugie but this was still not proving a deterrent to the poachers.
Having already lost three rhinos at Mugie in 2011 to poachers, the decision was made to translocate all the rhinos to Ol Jogi Conservancy near Nanyuki in central Kenya and to Ruma - the new KWS conservancy on the shores of Lake Victoria - in western Kenya. The last rhino to leave Mugie in January was called Baraka - a bull rhino born in 1976 and translocated here from Nakuru National Park in 2005. It was a sad moment when his crate was put on the back of the truck and the last of Kenya's most northerly population of black rhino was driven away.
Mugie had become synonymous with the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino and the continual daily battle to fight to save them. We had a huge dedicated security team that has worked tirelessly over the years but as the threat became so high the decision was made to translocate them in order to try and save the species from what looks like an increasingly worrying future.
Ironically everything else here is in the rhinos favour - the habitat conditions at Mugie for the browsing black rhinos are ideal - and at Mugie the breeding success rate was the best out of any Conservancy in Kenya. But unfortunately the death rate was also one of the highest - one of the reasons was due to predation of rhino calfs by hyena - but the biggest reason behind the high death rates was by poaching.
To get an understanding of the numbers involved - in South Africa alone, which is home to 80% of the worlds remaining rhinos, there were a staggering 440 rhinos killed last year by poachers when just five years ago 13 rhinos were killed in the same period.
We are still and will always continue our efforts with conservation here at Mugie - which is also home to the endangered Grevys zebra and Jacksons hartebeest amongst other threatened species. Our lion numbers are extremely healthy when numbers are dropping in many other areas due to illegal killings and habitat loss.
We just hope that the rhinos who were moved from Mugie will flourish in their new environment and will be safer than they were here from the appalling and real peril of poaching.