Jul 21, 2020

We are so grateful for your support!

Young Jobo is finally integrated into the group.
Young Jobo is finally integrated into the group.

It has been almost four months since we launched our Emergency Appeal on March 23rd. We have managed to raise over $100,000 thanks to you incredible generosity. We have received 1,478 donations from 943 donors, which is simply amazing! 178 of you decided to become monthly donors - a fantastic way to suport us during this ongoing pandemic. 

Unfortunately the financial situation on Ol Pejeta is not getting any better. We now anticipate the overall tourism revenues for the year to decrease by over US$ 4m. But our work on the ground continues and, thanks in part to you, we keep fulfilling our mission to protect endangered species and supporting our local communities. Here are some of the things that we have accomplished in the last four months:

  • We are the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Our black rhino population now stands at 135. Since January, we have welcomed five new healthy black rhino babies.
  • Our northern white rhinos went live with NatGeo and Filipe DeAndrade in their “around the world” Instagram live!
  • We have been nominated by the World Travel Awards for Africa's Leading Conservation Company 2020 and Africa's Leading Private Game Reserve 2020.
  • We have closed off our chimpanzee sanctuary to all visitors. Even though it has not been established that COVID-19 can affect chimpanzees, they are very closely related to humans and this means any diseases we carry could also affect them.
  • We have successfully integrated young chimpanzee Jobo with the rest of the group. After Jobo lost his mother to pneumonia a few months ago, he struggled to find his footing. Thankfully, after a long, gentle process, Jobo is now fully integrated back into the group. Cheetah, Sultana, Saidia and Julia took a liking to him and have finally embraced him.
  • We have donated ‘lion lights’ to community livestock owners, to help minimise lion/ human conflict and loss of income to pastoralists. They have been such a success that the group organised a fundraiser to create another 25 kits. 
  • We continue to use innovative tech to support rhino conservation, explore cost-effective solutions to wildlife monitoring, and even save water. Find out how.
  • 66 households in Tutuu village in Laikipia North received food hampers from the residents of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Estate (MKWE) on Ol Pejeta to support emergency food security during the current coronavirus crisis, which is hitting many rural communities hard. // find out more 
  • We launched Sofa Safaris on our Social Media channels. Since we know you can’t visit us right now, we decided to bring the wild to you. Everyday our team goes out into the Ol Pejeta wilderness and shares it with you.  
  • Our dedicated rhino caregiver, James Mwenda, was the first to be featured on actor and activist, Rhona Mitra's podcast, The Little Ark. They talked about everything conservation, what inspires James to be the passionate ambassador for wildlife that he is, and how people can help ensure wild animals and their speces remain safe. Click link to find out more.
  • We continue to work on Urban Ranch to provide a platform for the talented artisans living in our neighbouring villages. We currently support ten leatherworkers who create beautiful sandals, bags and belts from Ol Pejeta leather, and we’re hoping to expand this to support sculptors, tailors, beadworkers and other artisans in the near future.
  • We had a southern white rhino in North Carolina Zoo named after our rhino caregiver Joseph ‘Jojo’ Wachira.

We want to thank you again for your friendship and your support of our Emergency Appeal. We still have a very long way to go to get through this crisis, but with you on our side, we feel stronger and more confident.

If you have not yet, please share this campaign with your friends and family and ask them to support Ol Pejeta Conservancy and of course, we hope that as soon as it is easier to travel that you can come visit us on the Conservancy.

James Mwenda is featured on Rhona Mitra's podcast
James Mwenda is featured on Rhona Mitra's podcast
Lion lights are donated to our local neighbours
Lion lights are donated to our local neighbours
We have been nominated by the World Travel Awards
We have been nominated by the World Travel Awards
Jun 9, 2020

Some good news for the children of Mwituria

Thank you for your past and continued support to the children of Mwituria. In our last report to you, in December 2019, we mentioned that we were closing down the project and scaling it down as we had not managed to raise all the funds required to build the entire dormitory. We had started (and almost completed) Phase 1, which would accomodate 28 children from the school.

Right after we sent this report, we were notified by the amazing team at GlobalGiving that a corporate donor was interested in making a donation of US$100,000 towards our ‘Educate the future conservationists of Kenya’ project! This donation was truly a Christmas Gift for the children of Mwituria and came at the perfect time. It was all that we needed to restore enrolment and attendance rates that have been declining for several years, while protecting both the wildlife and children that share one road. We want to thank the team at Corteva Agriscience (https://www.corteva.com/) for this incredible gift and their amazing generosity! 

Thanks to the gift made by Corteva Agriscience and to all the efforts and generosity you put into this project in the months prior, we are one step closer to completing the dormitories as we had originally hoped. Once the new buildings are up, we will be able to empower Mwituria’s 128 children through education and accommodate for 300 more, pulling in students from further afield. This is a life changing proposition for these children, and you are part of it. Through your donation you have not only enabled this, but you have also helped us, by starting the ‘spark’ of educating them on becoming future ambassadors for our work in conservation.

Here are our plans going forward using the recent corporate donation we received, and adding it to the $21,341 already raised: 

US$90,000 will be spent on:

  1. Finishing the current dorm which carries a capacity of 64 students. This will include adding a septic tank, plumbing and indoor bathroom. 
  2. Extend the current dorm from a capacity of 64 students to 128 students. This will make it a full boarding institution recognised by the local county.
  3. Build three houses for the teachers. It is important for teachers to stay on the property since it will now be a boarding school. Their role will be to supervise and make sure the children are safe. 

We shall use the remaining US$10,000 to furnish the dormitories with beds, night tables, curtains and other necessary furnitures. 

Progress and timelines

As Kenya, just like the rest of the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, things have slowed down a bit for this project as we need to observe stringent safety regulations. Our team was able to meet with the school and community leaders who approved the presented plan and gave us a go ahead.

The Bill of Quantities (BOQ) has been sent out to potential contractors for pricing and analysis. We had originally planned to have the work completed by November 2020 but this date is likely to change because of the pandemic. The lockdown on major cities means that materials are much more expensive to procure at the moment. There are also some health regulations that we need to observe which means we need to have a safety protocol in place for the workers. We are observing the pandemic very closely and really hope that things will re-open soon so that we can move full steam ahead with the construction of the dormitories. 

Next Steps

The next step for this project is to identify the contractor we will work with. We have asked for a number of companies to submit their proposal to us and are awaiting a few more. Once we have identified the contractor, we will start the construction work. 

We will of course stay in close touch with you as soon as the project is moving forward. This amazing development wouldn't have been possible without you and we can't wait to send you photos once we have more developments. 

Thank you again for your support and participation in this campaign.

May 14, 2020

How your donations have helped!

One of our tracking dog is being deployed.
One of our tracking dog is being deployed.

The donation you made towards our 'Armed Rangers' appeal have helped tremendously. Armed rangers are the heart of our anti-poaching operations and without them, our rhinos would be left unprotected. Supporting them means stopping poachers. Suppporting them means the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa keeps thriving. 

The first quarter of the year has been business as usual for our team who have been able to efficiently and successfully carry out their duties, thanks to your support. Our team not only manages the safety of our wildlife, but are also often called by the members of our surrounding communities to assist with security issues. This has greatly improved our relationship with the communities who in turn stay vigilant of any suspicious characters trying to get to the wildlife, and alert us when they notice any possible intrusions on the fence line.

The team has handled a number of thefts and burglary cases, and assisted the local leaders in following up and arresting the culprits. Normally, the team will receive various requests during the night and then send a team to the sight the following morning unless it is an urgent request. The requests for help range from petty theft to serious cases of armed robbery.

On the 5th of January our head of security received a call about a theft that had taken place in Endana community. He gathered a team, including our tracking dog Stacey, and went to the location of the incident. They found out that three men had gone to the homestead and stolen 18 goats. Our tracker dog picked up the scent and followed it to an elderly lady’s home. When she was questioned, she told the team that a man had come knocking late in the night and had asked for a place to sleep, but had then left in the morning once he heard that our team was on his track. Since she knew his identity, the village elders led the team to the man’s family home where the goats were recovered and the man handed over to local authorities.

A lot of cases in our communities involve domestic animal and food crop as many of the communities are subsistence farmers. One such case was in the beginning of February when two suspects broke into a homestead by cutting open the iron roof sheets. They then stole 28 kilograms of peas. By the time our team was called to the scene, the suspects and peas were long gone but our tracker dog quickly followed their scent. This led the team from the homestead and three kilometers up to the main road where they lost the scent. This strongly suggested that the suspects got into a vehicle from that point. In such cases our team then hands over all the collected evidence to the local authorities for follow up.

Some cases require the use of ammunition and force especially where the people in the community or our staff are in a potentially dangerous situation. In February five armed suspects raided a homestead and while three of them led a cattle herd away, two were holding the owner captive. Once they had the cows safely out of the compound, they let him free. Once our team received the alert in the morning, they headed to the location together with the local police. Once again, our tracker dog came to the rescue and led them to a plain where they found nine of the thirteen stolen cows which had separated from the rest of the group during the robbery. The cows had erased any footprints by the suspects that the team could follow but the police are still following up on leads.

Our team has handled nine cases in the community in January and February and made three arrests. This would not be possible without the support you have sent and continue sending our way. While some of the equipment was received, some items have been procured and awaiting shipping. There has been further delay caused by the onset of COVID-19, but we are working on getting the rest of the equipment in the next few months. We cannot wait to give you further updates on the impact your contribution has made to our armed rangers.

Armed rangers in the field.
Armed rangers in the field.
The Ol Pejeta armed rangers team.
The Ol Pejeta armed rangers team.
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