Swapping guns for bats: Kenya’s Maasai warriors play cricket to save white rhinos

Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the home to the last three white rhinos, where they are accompanied by armed guards 24 hours to save them from poaching.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 20, 2017 5:21 pm
Members of the Maasai Cricket Warriors pose for a photograph with the last surviving male northern white rhino named ‘Sudan’ after playing against the British Army Training Unit (BATUK) cricket team during a charity tournament called the “Last Male Standing Rhino Cup” in Kenya. (Source: Reuters)

Conservationists in Kenya have been trying unusual and bizarre methods to raise funds to save the world’s last male white northern rhino, who desperately needs to mate, in a bid to avoid extinction of the species. Kenya’s Ol Pejeta conservancy is the home to the last three white rhinos, where they are accompanied by armed guards 24 hours to save them from poaching. And as conservation programme, cost of maintenance and fertility treatments cost high, they are finding new ways to help these near-extinct species.

Poachers sell northern white rhinos horns for $50,000 per kilo, making them more valuable than gold or cocaine.

ALSO READ | Horny male seeks mate: Kenya’s last northern white rhino joins Tinder

Under the gaze of the last male northern white rhino, a group of Maasai warriors went into bat for the threatened species, wearing their traditional red shuka robes and clunky white cricket pads.

Ol Pejeta hoped to raise 1 million Kenya shillings ($100,000) from the 12-team tournament, which also featured sides from the British Army Training Unit and Australian High Commission. (Source: Reuters)

The warriors were taking part in the annual Last Male Standing Rhino Cup, a two-day tournament hosted in the Laikipia conservation area where the last three northern white rhino live — 43-year-old male rhino, Sudan and two other females 17-year-old Satu and 27-year-old Najin.

“Because the cost of looking after rhinos is enormously expensive these days as a result of poaching, we use many other different ways to try and raise the money,” Richard Vigne of tournament organisers the Ol Pejeta conservancy told Reuters.

Josephat Mamai of the Maasai Cricket Warriors plays against the British Army Training Unit (BATUK) cricket team during a charity tournament at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia. (Source: Reuters)

Ol Pejeta hoped to raise 1 million Kenya shillings ($100,000) from the 12-team tournament, which also featured sides from the British Army Training Unit and Australian High Commission.

However, Cricket is not the only method of fundraising that the male rhino, named Sudan, is part of. Conservationists set up a Tinder profile for the rhino, to help raise money for his $9-million fertility treatment after all attempts at getting him to mate naturally have failed.

“I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me,” reads his profile. “I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. 6 ft tall and 5,000 pounds if it matters.”

[with inputs from Reuters)

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