Oldest rhino in Kenya dies, another 'disappears' in Tanzania

Thursday December 08 2016

Solio the rhino, also nicknamed the Grand Old Lady. She died of old age at 42 years on December 5, 2016 at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. PHOTO | COURTESY

Wildlife lovers are mourning the death of one of Kenya's oldest iconic rhino that symbolised the conservation campaign.

Solio, also nicknamed the Grand Old Lady, was the oldest rhino at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. She died of old age on Monday, at 42 years, surpassing the average wild black rhino lifespan of 30-35 years.

Her carcass was spotted by rangers on patrol in one of the blocks in the conservancy that straddles Meru, Laikipia and Isiolo counties.

“In a world where rhinos face daily persecution from poachers, this incredible Kenyan rhino lived a long and healthy life,” read a statement from the conservancy.

"She died peacefully of old age and lived a life every rhino in the world should long, safe, and free of poaching."

As part of the endangered black rhino species, Solio was in Lewa’s pioneering population. In her lifetime, she gave birth to 10 calves.


Rhinos are among the most poached animals in East Africa, with their population dwindling, forcing authorities to keep them in protected areas.

Solio was translocated from Laikipia’s Solio Ranch in 1984 to the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary, which was later re-established as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

During this time, the rhino population faced an extinction from poachers hungry for the horns.

Rhino disappears

Meanwhile, Tanzania is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a black rhino from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

The rhino was reportedly sold to a private lodge in the Serengeti for $100,000.

"We are going through documents to establish how the rhino was sold," said Alexander Songorwa, the director of wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

However, there were other reports that the rhino, named John, had died.

Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa Tuesday ordered to be furnished with a report detailing how the rhino had been moved from the sanctuary in Ngorongoro to the Singita Sasakwa Lodge. In addition, he asked that a qualified wildlife veterinary officer verifies the death report.