Community wildlife conservation works, and this baby black rhino is proof. Black rhinos in East Africa have teetered on the edge of extinction, but local communities are fighting to save these majestic creatures. The baby rhino’s birth earlier this month was the first on community-owned property in 25 years.

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According to the World Wildlife Fund, black rhinos are still critically endangered. Since 1960, poaching and hunting decimated the black rhinos by about 98%, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In all of Kenya there are only an estimated 640 black rhinos, which makes this baby’s birth all the more hopeful.

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The land belongs to Kenya’s Sera Conservancy Trust, which opened the Sera Community Rhino Sanctuary last May, run by local Kenyans as part of the Northern Rangelands Trust. The baby’s mother Naitamany arrived when the preserve opened, five months pregnant.

Black rhinos can be pregnant for up to 16 months, but the team feared she might lose the baby after relocating. Instead, she thrived at the sanctuary and gave birth to her calf, who will be named when its sex is ascertained.

The sanctuary is unique because it is controlled by local people, and is the first of its kind in East Africa. It was built where black rhinos used to live before they were mercilessly hunted, and now 11 black rhinos are repopulating their former home. Plans are in place to relocate 10 more to the preserve this year.

In addition to rebuilding the black rhino population, the Sanctuary boosts the living standards of native people.

Pauline Longojine, who sits on the chair of the Sera Conservancy Trust, said “The community around, the Borana, the Rendille, the Samburu come together to give animals and people peace. The many things we do as a Conservancy are removing people from poverty to a better life.”

Ultimately the Sanctuary aims to build back the rhino population in other areas of East Africa, and this adorable baby rhino is a promising beginning.

Via NRT Kenya

Images via the Northern Rangelands Trust and Wikimedia Commons