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On patrol with Kenya’s rhino defenders

Reporting from Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park in issue #27 of Delayed Gratification, writer and photographer Susan Schulman sheds light on the unpredictable ways climate change is altering society in the east African country.

A series of disastrous weather events has resulted in a decimation of rural livelihoods and a scarcity of watering holes for the region’s world-famous wildlife – a combination that has proved particularly deadly for Kenya’s rhino population…

Deprived of resources, more and more people are resorting to poaching – and, as Susan explains in her report, the poachers are resorting to lethal new tactics. This has made life in the Lake Nakuru reserve increasingly hazardous for the park rangers tasked with protecting the rhinos. These photos were taken as Susan accompanied the heavily armed rangers on patrol.

National park ranger Samson (above) uses telescopic lenses to track rhino – and to search the brush for poachers who might be armed with powerful crossbows and poisonous darts.

Lake Nakuru’s force of 70 rangers has had to militarise to keep up with the poachers. They carry AK-47s and ensure the park is patrolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 2016 an estimated 1,300 rhino were killed for their horns, which in some parts of the world is believed to have powerful medicinal qualities. In some markets rhino horn can fetch up to US $100,000 a kilo – worth twice its weight in gold.

For more images from Susan’s experience on patrol with the rangers, and for her in depth report on the wider social and political upheavals already being wrought by climate change in this part of the world, get hold of DG #27, available now from our online shop.

 

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