(Firstly, apologies for the delay on this post! Technology has not been my friend as of late; my phone drowned in shower gel and my laptop kicked the bucket too! But anyway! Here’s a little post on the work of Ol Pejeta Consevancy, which I found incredibly inspiring and wanted to share with everyone!)
The Conservation & Biodiversity trip spenta wonderful 3 days in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Lakipia County. We met Joshua, who explained the history of the conservancy. Established in 1989, it now stretches over 90,000 acres and is dedicated to animal protection, especially of rhinos. It is a critical reservoir for wildlife over the dry season especially, and is home to the world’s last 3 Northern White Rhinos.
Ol Pejeta is the largest sanctuary for Black Rhinos in East Africa. With over 600 staff members, the team monitor 105 Rhinos, 24 hours a day, protecting them from poaching as their horns are considered more valuable than those of Southern White Rhinos, also found in the reserve.
The star of the reserve was Sudan, the last remaining male Northern White Rhino. We had a unique opportunity to meet him, and were filled with a sense of melancholy that we were meeting such a rare individual, the last of his kind. Attempts have been made for Sudan to breed, however, he is 80 in human years, so unsurprisingly they have been unsuccessful. The only likely way of saving his species would be through IVF, which has its own associated risks, not to mention expenses. As we drove through the reserve, we saw the last two females and realised we were looking at the whole population of a species.
Of course, human actions were the cause of the species’ decline, they hunted to extinction in the wild, with the last remaining individuals cobbled together from zoos around the world. Sudan himself spent many of his years in a Czech zoo before being brought to the safety of Ol Pejeta where he can live out his last few years on this Earth in peace. The last three live in a special enclosure within Ol Pejeta, with endangered Grevy’s zebra. Because of the size of the enclosure, rhino poo needs to be cleared every few weeks, so we got stuck in and helped the Rangers shovel large amounts of the rarest poo in the world from their enclosure. We felt an odd sense of privilege to be doing this, but this again highlighted the efforts Rangers have to go to when protecting these animals.
The Rangers watch these animals 24/7 and quite literally risk their lives to protect the rhinos. Poaching unfortunately does occur from time to time so Ol Pejeta has had to employ the use of many security features to stop them. So far, they have proved very successful, but it seems to be an arms race with poachers, each developing new methods to out wit the other. However, we left with every certainty that Sudan and his two female counterparts were as happy and as safe as they could possibly be.
nrs208 January 30th, 2016 Kenya archive