MY DAY AT OL PEJETA
I arrive at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy – an impressive place.
It’s a private, non-profit wildlife sanctuary and home to Kenya’s highest concentration of wildlife. It’s also the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, making Ol Pejeta a key player in protecting one of the world’s most endangered species.
Together with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), they have created an elaborate security system at the Conservancy, which combines rhino patrols, armed teams, tracker dogs, aircrafts, cattle herders and local communities, and even an electrified fence that surrounds the entire perimeter of this 90,000 acre sanctuary!
Rhino patrolling is no joke- it involves walking for hours on end, several times a day, until every last rhino is spotted at least once every three days. The rhino patrollers know each and every rhino by name and sight, and if they can’t find one during their daily patrol, then they use a plane to patrol the entire conservancy until all rhinos are accounted for!
However, poaching has become such a serious problem in East Africa, that last year alone, Ol Pejeta lost five of their 88 rhinos to poachers, which has been their greatest loss in twenty years. Ol Pejeta and the KWS have had to step up their game to defeat poaching, and some members of the security team undergo intensive training programs to sharpen their surveillance skills.
As you can imagine, protecting rhinos from illegal poaching is not only time intensive, but also expensive! Richard Vigne, the CEO of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, believes that the public and local communities should play an important part in protecting rhinos and wildlife in general. That’s where tourists, like me, can help out in a big way.
Ol Pejeta opens its doors to visitors who come for safaris or to volunteer with rhino patrolling. The revenue generated by tourists and volunteers is what fuels Ol Pejeta’s conservation efforts, and in essence, what keeps black rhinos safe.
Did I meet any rhinos, you may wonder? Stay tuned!