The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360sq km wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya’s Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for chimpanzees and generate income through wildlife tourism.
The Conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, being home to about 100 black rhinos. Two of the world’s remaining northern white rhinos are preserved here in a special sanctuary. Additionally, the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is situated here, and provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned and rescued chimpanzees. The Conservancy is also host to the “Big five game” among a large selection of other African animals, which makes it a popular safari destination. It also operates a successful livestock program, which serves to benefit local pastoralists and wildlife.
All members of the “Big five game” (lion, Cape buffalo, African elephant, leopard and rhinoceros) can be found on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Both black and white rhino thrive here. Other rare animals that can be found in Ol Pejeta include the endangered African wild dog, oryx, Jackson’s hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, serval, cheetah and bat-eared fox.
The more common African wildlife can, of course, be found here too, including reticulated giraffes, vervet monkeys, baboons, hippos, impala, eland, Grant’s gazelle, dik-dik, plains zebra, silver backed jackal, hyena. There are also over 300 bird species on the Conservancy.
All animals are free to move in and out of the Conservancy by way of specially constructed “game corridors” that only restrict the movement of rhinos. Knee-high posts in the ground, situated very close together, present no challenge for elephant, antelope and carnivores, who are easily able to jump or step over. Rhinos, however, are unable to do this, and as a result are restricted from moving into areas where they are in danger of being slaughtered for their horn.
The northern white rhino is a subspecies of white rhino, which used to range over parts of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Years of widespread poaching and civil war in their home range have devastated northern white rhino populations, and they are now considered to be extinct in the wild.
The world’s last remaining northern white rhinos are found in Ol Pejeta. There has been futile efforts in trying to reproduce more northern white rhinos from the remaining ones. Such is the plight of this species that Ol Pejeta is trying to cross-breed the closely related southern white rhinos with the northern whites, to preserve northern white rhino genetics in hybrid offspring.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is incorporated within the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and is the only place in Kenya where this highly endangered and remarkably intelligent species can be seen. The Sanctuary opened in 1993 in a negotiated agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from west and central Africa.
With 24-hour veterinary support and a stimulating quarantine enclosure, chimpanzees arriving at the Sanctuary are carefully nursed back to health. When they are ready, they are introduced into one of the two large groups at the Sanctuary, who live in vast natural enclosures separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. The chimps have set feeding times, and return to their indoor enclosures at night – but other than that they spend their days exploring, climbing, socialising, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again.
From wild camping by the river, to the lap of luxury in the old colonial ranch house, there are nine accommodation choices on Ol Pejeta, sure to suit every budget and taste. These are the Ol Pejeta House, Ol Pejeta bushcamp, Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, Pelican House, Kicheche Lakipia Camp and private campsites.
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