10 Great successes in wildlife conservation

We have at least 10 reasons to think positive, despite covid, in terms of wildlife conservation. 

In fact, in recent times, there have been remarkable successes in wildlife protection, despite the increase of trafficking and poaching during covid-19. It is an endless was between those who wish to save endangered species and those who are only attracted by profit.

But let’s see more closely what are the most important successes: 

1. In 2018, the death of Sudan, the last northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), has been a wake-up call to the world.  At the time of his death, he was one of only three living northern white rhinoceroses on the planet, and the last known male of his subspecies. Sudan was euthanised after suffering from age-related complications. In august 2019 a group of scientists created embyos using eggs harvested from the two remaining females of northern white rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy,  and semen collected from the deceased males, among which were Sudan. Now the embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen, and will be transferred to a surrogate mother as soon as ready.  If everthing goes on well, we may see species coming back from extintion.


JULY 2020


White rhino (Ceratotherium simum) – Laikipia 2018

Photo by Sara Gastaldi

2. In 2019 a group called Team Lioness was formed by eight young Maasai women, being one of the first all-women ranger units, whose main target is fighting against wildlife crime in Kenya. With the help of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) they work to prevent trafficking and poaching especially in Amboseli National Park, one of the parks with the highest elephant popolution.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.“ – Jane Goodall

3. Last year, 2019, Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia, helped to rescue 44 cheetahs from traffickers and they are in process to rehabilitate 38 cheetahs. Now they are building a new facility in order to save more and more of them. 

Cheetah cub (Acinonyx jubatus) – Masai Mara – 2019

Photo by Sara Gastaldi

Cheetah adult – Samburu National Reserve – 2020

Photo by Sara Gastaldi

4. After China banned elephant ivory trade in 2018, now Hong Kong is also willing to close its market by 2023. We remind that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the Republic of China and the chinese ban was not effective there. There is now pressure on Japan, the only remaining legal ivory trade to close it down. The elephants are still in danger anyway, because Vietnam and Laos, the major illegal ivory trades, continue to thrive in trafficking, and threaten Africa’s elephants.

5. Save the Elephants, an association based in Samburu, has reported good figures: the number of elephants in northern Kenya has recovered to where it was before poachers hit the same area 10 years ago. This number now exceeds 7000 individuals.

Elephant herd in Samburu N.P. – 2019

Photo by Sara Gastaldi

6. The number of Western African giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) dropped towards extintion, but now has increased again to 600 individuals.  This number is not high, we know, but it appears auspicious if we recall that it had previously crashed to just 49. The improvement has been made possible by Niger’s government and its excellent conservation efforts. This giraffe subspecies lived exclusively in an area closed to Niamey, Niger’s capital but in 2018 a second population has been established, with the help of Giraffe Conservation Foundation, in Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve, where giraffes had gone locally extint 50 years before.




7. Poaching and trafficking in rhino horns brought black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) towards extinction, but the south western back rhino (Diceros bicornis occidentalis) has been fortunatelly reclassified from “vulnerable” to “near-threatened” by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), thanks to conservation endeavours. So, this means that it is less probable to be extinct soon. 

Giraffa camelopardalis peralta

Black rhino (Diceros bicornis occidentalis) – Namibia Etosha

Beatragus hunteri – Tsavo east

8. Conservancies in Kenya are a great success because they have been able to balance the needs of local people and wildlife, by ensuring landowners to benefit economically from tourism.  All together now cover 6 million hectares, which is about 11% of Kenya’s total area, more than all the national parks and reserves which occupy alone 8% of the country. They are very important in protecting wildlife population.

9. Over the last ten years, the number of Hunter hartebeeest (Beatragus hunteri), called also Hilora, has increased in Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, in the north of Kenya. Hirola population was already in danger in ’60s. In the mid of 90s the numbers dropped to just 300 individuals.  Nowadays, the Hunter hartebeest is one of the rarest antilopes on earth and very close to extinction.  That is why it has been at the centre of the formation of the Ishaqbini Conservancy in the north of Kenya, where this animal is endemic. Some of them have been translocated to Tsavo East National Park in 1963 and again in 1996, where now there is a second small populaton of about hundred members.

10. Conservancies around Masai Mara National Reserve are also doing a great job and lion populations have doubled now, being in fact the best places where to spot them. Conservancies in Laikipia are instead the best in rhino conservation and protection, like Solio Ranch, which is in fact one of the place that we often visit in our tours of northern Kenya. 


Mating lions – Mara North Conservancy

Photo by Sara Gastaldi


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