At the end of last year, visiting Kenya under the auspices of a Stimson Center development and transnational security project in East Africa, I met Baraka, a 2.5-ton black rhinoceros that, despite being completely blind, is truly lucky. Baraka, whose name means “blessings” in Swahili, lives in a 100-acre safeguarded part of Kenya’s Sweetwaters National Park on the foothills of Mount Kenya. There he mingles with visitors, whom he allows to both pet and feed him. Though rhinos are a naturally aggressive species, Baraka seems to think he has no natural enemies. Perhaps he would feel differently if he knew about the ongoing perils faced by his and other species on the savannahs in Kenya and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
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This op-ed first apeared in World Politics Review on May 1, 2013