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Karanja, the oldest black rhino in Maasai Mara dies at 43

Friday December 26 2014

A picture showing a rhino named Karanja at the

A picture showing a rhino named Karanja at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The rhino died on December 24, 2014 at the age of 43. PHOTO | COURTESY| LESINKO OLE KOOL  

BEATRICE OBWOCHA
By BEATRICE OBWOCHA
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The oldest rhino at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve has died.

The black rhino, named Karanja died at the age of 43 on Christmas Eve.

According to Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, Karanja died at 11 am Wednesday and its horns were removed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) veterinary officers.

She said the longer horn weighed five kilograms and the shorter one was three and a half kilograms.

The chairman of Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association chairman Paul Kirui said the rhino was popular with tourists as he was relaxed even when close to vehicles.

A picture showing a rhino named Karanja dead in

A picture showing a rhino named Karanja dead in a stream at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve on December 24, 2014. It died at the age of 43. PHOTO | COURTESY| LESINKO OLE KOOL

“His trademark was the long pin-sharp horn,” said Mr Kirui.

Pictures of the rhino taken by Lesinko ole Kool, a tour guide at the Fig Tree Camp in Maasai Mara show it died in a stream at the game reserve.

The rhino was under constant surveillance by KWS rangers.

“Watching him a few days ago you could see he was really on his last days,” Mr Kirui said in a post on his Facebook account.

Ms Wakhungu said the body of the rhino was taken to the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) for preservation.

It might be displayed at the museum where the skeleton of Ahmed, a giant bull elephant from the Marsabit National Reserve, is also kept.

According to NMK, conservationists in the 1970’s feared the elephant would be targeted by poachers for its huge tusks and advocated for its protection.

Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta assigned two rangers to watch Ahmed day and night until he died of old age. The two tusks removed after he died in 1974, at the age of 55, weighed 68 kilograms

“Karanja defied poachers. He should join Ahmed the elephant at the Museum,” Mohammed Hersi, the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Hotels said in a post on his Twitter account.

Mr Hersi congratulated KWS rangers for watching the rhino thus saving it from poachers.

Black rhinos have been listed as endangered species and are under threat of poaching. There are 49 black rhinos in Maasai Mara.