Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations

by Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
Safeguarding Ol Pejeta's Rhino Populations
PC: JCPIERI. 3 rhinos on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. 3 rhinos on Ol Pejeta

As we draw a close on 2022, we want to thank you for your incredible support which has enabled the Ol Pejeta team to continue delivering critical anti-poaching and wildlife conservation activities. Our rhino population has now reached a record 212, comprising of 167 black, 43 southern white and 2 northern whites. We have also a witnessed a record 26 births (22 black and 4 white), and therefore maintained a population growth rate of 8% through 2022. This achievement would not be possible without your support, and we sincerely thank you for helping us to grow Kenya's rhino population.

Your support has enabled our anti-poaching team to continue patrolling the Conservancy 24/7. Each day, our rangers cover roughly 10km a day! It is critical that our team remains highly-skilled and well equipped to mitigate security risks and respond to poaching threats. Therefore, all our rangers attend regular re-fresher courses and tactical training workshops. In the last four months, our senior commanders participated in a six day training session from the 6th to the 11th September, and all teams participated in a 10-day session from the 14th to the 23rd November hosted by 51 Degrees. These training sessions covered physical fitness, scenario operations, weapons handling, code of conduct, human rights under the Kenyan law and emergency first-aid. As a result of these efforts, Ol Pejeta celebrates the 5th consecutive year of no rhino poaching incidents. We are extremely proud of this, and thank you for partnering with Ol Pejeta to achieve this incredible milestone.

On Ol Pejeta, we have been blessed with some intermittent rains in recent months. These are yet to achieve any significant widespread ecosystem response throughout the Conservancy, however pastures within certain areas have turned green. For the most vulnerable species like Najin and Fatu, there is now enough grazing during the day, meaning supplementary feeding has moved to only at nighttime. To mitigate the impact of the drought, OPC continues to focus on improving water efficiency and increasing water availability and storage, whilst supplementary feeding where necessary.

From all of us, we are sincerely grateful for the impactful partnership with generous donors like yourself. Your support through another challenging year for all, has enabled us to deliver substantial conservation impact together.

A warm Asante Sana from all of us at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

PC: JCPIERI. Rangers on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. Rangers on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. Rangers on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. Rangers on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. Black rhinos on Ol Pejeta
PC: JCPIERI. Black rhinos on Ol Pejeta
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After over two years of financial insecurity resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are now faced with another devastating challenge: drought.

Kenya is currently tackling the worst drought in forty years. Here on Ol Pejeta, many of our dams have turned to dust and water levels in the Ewaso Ng'iro River are alarmingly low.

The prolonged dry spell – and now drought - is having a devastating impact on our wildlife, including the world’s rarest rhinos, Najin and Fatu.

Little Grass for Najin and Fatu
In a recent assessment, our Ecological Monitoring Unit (EMU) concluded that the average biomass is below the recommended minimum threshold. Grass is particularly poor in Najin and Fatu’s large enclosure. Our rangers have been working hard to reduce competition for food within their enclosure by driving warthogs and common zebras out into the main Conservancy. This is a lengthy exercise, which will need to be repeated several times. Once complete, Najin and Fatu will have exclusive access to the little grass available.

However, this is not sufficient, and we are keeping your favorite pair healthy by providing supplemental hay, carrots and nutritional pellets. Our rhino caregivers also had to begin supplemental feeding for Ariemet and Mojo (the potential surrogates for the northern white rhino recovery program) and Ouwan (the teaser bull).

We desperately hope that the short rains will arrive in October and that the grass will bounce back, providing much needed food and water for Najin, Fatu and the surrogates.

Resilient Black Rhinos
Our eastern black rhino population - the largest sub-population in the world - is booming. We have welcomed fourteen new-borns to the world since the start of the year! This is a record – a testament to your generous support - and we hope to welcome more calves between now and the end of December.

Fortunately, the bushes and trees that black rhinos feed on are quite resilient and have not yet been heavily impacted by the arid conditions. However, in extreme cases of drought, elephants shift their diet to trees, which could impact our black rhino population. Our Ecological Monitoring Unit are monitoring the situation closely.

Southern White Rhinos
Our southern white rhino population continues to grow, and we have had three births this year so far. This brings our total population to 42!

Ear Notching Called-off
Ear notching is an essential tool in rhino conservation and is in-line with Kenya’s black rhino action plan. Small notches are made in a unique pattern on each rhino’s ear, to help identify them in the wild. The exercise is managed by a team of experts and requires extensive planning, approval and equipment including a helicopter. Our ear notching exercise planned for July/August, with the Kenyan Wildlife Service was cancelled because we were concerned that rhinos waking up from the procedure would struggle to find available water supplies. This will be rearranged once the situation improves and water supplies have been restored.

Thank You
You have been by our side through every challenge, and we cannot express how grateful we are. Thanks to your continued generosity, we are able to care for and protect over 200 rhinos that roam the plains of Ol Pejeta Conservancy and a myriad of other species that live among them.

A very warm ASANTE SANA (thank you) from Ol Pejeta!

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When Kenya halted international travel to prevent the spread of Covid-19, our future became uncertain. However, you helped us when we needed it most. Your generous support has allowed us to keep our core operations running and our rhinos protected.

Here on the Conservancy, there is no better sight than a newborn rhino calf. We are pleased to confirm that our rhino populations continue to grow, with a significant number of births reported in the last few weeks.

Rhino Populations

  • Black Rhino: 160
  • Southern White Rhino: 40
  • Northern White Rhino: 2

Black rhinos were almost poached to extinction. Today, they are listed as Critically Endangered. However, thanks to your continued support and our highly skilled anti-poaching team, our black rhino population continues to thrive.

Black rhinos, also known as ‘hook-lipped rhinos’ have poor vision but sharp hearing and sense of smell. Except for mothers with calves, black rhinos tend to be solitary.

Here on Ol Pejeta Conservancy, we have successfully grown our black rhino population from 20 to 160 in three decades.

Southern white rhinos are celebrated as a conservation success story, having been brought back from the brink of extinction.

Southern white rhinos, also known as square-lipped rhinos use their wide mouth for grazing. They have complex social structures and are typically less aggressive than black rhinos.  

Anti-Poaching Operation

Our highly trained rhino protection squads work tirelessly to keep our rhinos safe. Using ear notches and other distinguishing features, our dedicated ranger team aim to identify each rhino every four days. If a particular rhino has not been sighted for four days, a dedicated team is sent to search for them. Your donations have enabled us to continue funding our anti-poaching operation and we will be forever grateful.

Northern White Rhinos

Najin and Fatu, the world’s last two northern white rhinos require around-the-clock armed protection. Your compassion and generous support have allowed us to continue protecting and caring for Najin and Fatu. In our effort to save the species from extinction, we have now successfully created 14 northern white rhino embryos, which will later be introduced into surrogate southern white rhinos.

Looking Ahead

When you responded to our Emergency Appeal, your compassion, generosity, and kindness saved us. However, we are not out of the woods yet. Whilst increasing, international tourism has not bounced back to the level we had hoped. Our need to fundraise to keep our rhinos protected remains crucial.

We hope you can visit us one day to see the impact of your support. Thank you from the entire Ol Pejeta team. 

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Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue

It has been a busy year for Ol Pejeta and one of the hardest in living memory due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.

Your support is truly inspiring and has enabled us to continue our vital work on the ground, ensuring our rhinos remain protected.

Since our last Emergency Appeal update in mid-August, you have helped us raise an incredible $60,312 to continue safeguarding our rhino populations. Thank you from everyone here on Ol Pejeta.

Kenya conserves 75% of the Critically Endangered eastern black rhino. In the early 1970s the population stood at approximately 20,000 but a rapid decline, driven by industrial-scale poaching, saw this number reduce to approximately 350 by the late 1980s. Our anti-poaching operation is highly successful, evidenced by zero poaching during the last four years. Our state-of-the-art technology lab, combined with our world-class veterinary support, K9 Unit and skilled ranger team have enabled us to successfully grow our black rhino population from 20 to almost 150 in three decades. Sadly, the threat of poaching is once-again increasing, and we must remain ever vigilant to protect our precious rhinos.

Our internationally recognized rhino conservation program also helps to conserve other endangered or vulnerable species such as African wild dog, cheetah, lion, hippo, Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra and the locally threatened Jackson’s Hartebeest.

Covid-19 is by far the biggest challenge we have ever had to face. The constant change to international travel restrictions continues to have a devastating impact on our tourism revenue. As a result, we remain almost entirely dependent on the generous support of our donors and partners. With the Omicron variant now taking hold across the world, our future is again becoming increasingly uncertain.

Despite the ruinous impact of the global pandemic, we have been humbled by the profound support of our generous donors like yourself. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Best wishes,

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue
Photograph by William Fortescue
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We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you! You continue to support us when we need it most and we are extremely grateful.

Together, you have raised $65,000 towards our project to safeguard Ol Pejeta’s rhino population, since our last report in April 2021.

Your gift meant that we were able to continue:

  • Protecting our black rhino population, which require 24-hour surveillance by our dedicated team of rangers.
  • Providing for Baraka, our blind rhino who requires around the clock support and protection.
  • Running our veterinary unit, which frequently responds to emergency calls to treat injured animals.
  • Protecting wildlife which includes a range of endangered species such as Grevy’s zebra, elephant, lion and Beisa oryx.
  • Maintaining zero poaching on the conservancy.
  • Working to keep our neighbors safe with our Emergency Response Team, who deals quickly and efficiently with human/wildlife conflict and crime.
  • Keeping our conservation heroes including our rangers, K9 team, rhino caregivers and chimpanzee caregivers employed.

We are humbled that you chose to support us during these challenging times. You are a true wildlife guardian, and you should be proud of your impact.

However, we are not out of the woods yet. The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Kenya on Friday 13th March 2020. Over 1 ½ years later, the virus continues to manifest itself across the country and the government continues to impose local restrictions, including curfews to prevent further spread of the virus. Although we recognize the need to limit travel, this has caused further devastation to Kenya’s already collapsed tourism industry. Tourism revenues represented the majority of our income in 2019. Now, many of our tented camps, guest houses and accommodation are vacant. This means that we are almost entirely dependent on donors like yourself.

As we do not anticipate international travel to return in any meaningful way until late 2022., we are tremendously concerned about the next six months. Whilst we are ensuring prudency and efficiency in our expenditure, we are still working with a current deficit of over $900,000. If we stop now, everything we have achieved together, such as growing our black rhino population from 20 to 146 in three decades, risks being lost. However, we are determined to continue for our wildlife and for the benefit of people here and around the world.

We have a bumpy road ahead and our wildlife needs your support. We hope that you continue this journey with us. Thank you so much from the bottoms of our hearts. Your support means the world to us.

A huge thank you from our team!
A huge thank you from our team!
Baraka, our blind rhino, requires 24h protection
Baraka, our blind rhino, requires 24h protection
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Organization Information

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Location: Nanyuki - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @olpejeta
Project Leader:
Amber Thacker
Nanyuki, Kenya
$444,249 raised of $500,000 goal
 
9,307 donations
$55,751 to go
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