Rhino conservationist Anna Merz dies in South Africa
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May/June 2013:
Anna Merz, 83, died on April 4, 2013 at a hospital in Melkriver, South Africa, her home since 1996. Born in England, Merz was among the many London children who were relocated to Cornwall during the Nazi bombing attacks of early World War II. Studying politics and economics at Nottingham University, she read for the bar at Lincoln’s Inn, but instead of practicing law, she relocated to Ghana with her first husband. There, recalled The Times of London, she “owned a crankshaft grinding workshop, developed a love of riding, worked as honorary warden in the game department and took off on expeditions across the Sahara and around Uganda and northern Kenya.” Retiring to Kenya with her second husband in 1976, Merz learned from elephant and rhino conservationist Esmond Bradley Martin that rhinos were close to being poached to extinction throughout their range in both Africa and Asia. In 1982 Merz invested her own savings in helping David and Delia Craig to convert their Lewa Estate into the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary. Acquiring their first rhino in 1984, they increased the sanctuary rhino population to 16 by 1988 and doubled the sanctuary size to 10,000 acres. Within another six years the sanctuary and the government-owned Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve were fenced to create a 61,000-acre protected rhino habitat. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy now claims more than 120 rhinos, including about 11% and 14% of Kenya’s black and white rhino populations respectively. Initially involved in hands-on rhino care, Merz later authored a book, Rhino: At the Brink of Extinction (1994), and for years thereafter toured the world to raise funds for rhino conservation.