Ol Pejeta set to break new ground with drone deployment to fight poaching


(Posted 17th April 2014)

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, arguably Kenya’s most complete wilderness experience all wrapped in one place, where the big five roam the sprawling 90.000+ acres conservancy, with both Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains visible in the distance, will from June this year begin to deploy high tech aerial surveillance crafts, commonly referred to as drones but in technical terms called UAV’s or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Their ‘Aerial Ranger’, refined and improved by the manufacturers to withstand the tropical conditions under which it will operate, allows the conservancy’s security team to gain real time surveillance results over an extended radius of operation, controlled via a set of computers at the conservancy headquarters.

Deployment was initially intended for last year already but both the need to adapt the new bird to local operating conditions and the various stages of obtaining regulatory approvals from different government organizations delayed the launch which is now expected in June.

This will be a first for Eastern Africa and the lead taken by Ol Pejeta has already shown an impact on other conservancies and national wildlife managers KWS, where plans are afoot too to go high tech in the fight against an increasing wave of commercial style poaching which has reached Kenya from the south. Ol Pejata’s ranger force are members of the Kenya Police Reserve and as such licensed to carry arms and operate under specific rules of engagement when encountering poachers, supported by a rapid deployment force which can use airborne units to cut off the escape routes of poachers, where they can then be engaged and dealt with accordingly.

On the ground has Ol Pejeta also developed the concept of using sniffer dogs to pursue and track any intruders into the sanctuary, and the following information has been received from the conservancy’s corporate communications and PR team:

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In the fight against poaching Ol Pejeta is constantly evolving its security tactics. Our vision is to create a cutting edge security force and our canine unit is part of this security force.

Ol Pejeta’s canine unit is made up of two bloodhounds, an assault dog and 11 Malanois puppies. These are used as part of an anti-poaching strategy to complement the work of our armed rangers. The dogs are undergoing training in arms, explosives and ivory detection, tracking, assault and patrol. Our dogs are trained by Daryll Pleasants from White Paw Professional Dog Training. White Paw continues to work with Ol Pejeta in upgrading and expanding our canine unit.

This year, Ol Pejeta and White Paw have teamed up to launch the Ol Pejeta online auction to raise funds for the Ol Pejeta Canine Unit. The auction will take place internationally via eBay at the end of May 2014 (more details to follow shortly). Interest and support of our auction has been growing daily with an unprecedented amount of award winning international artists, sculptors and wildlife photographers donating original artwork, one off sculptures and limited editions prints to support our cause. White Paw have also been busy contacting celebrities, such as fashion designers Elizabeth Emmanuel and Ben di Lisi, the cast of Downton Abbey and Stephen Fry and enrolling them to support our cause by doodling a picture of a rhino that will be framed and auctioned. The AMC Television Network, which airs Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, have also donated a host of merchandise including signed autographs from the various shows cast members and a special ‘one off’ donation to be revealed closer to the auction!

We have also enlisted the help of several organisations. Up for grabs is a 7-day anytime voucher that allows the winning bidder to fly from any of Virgin’s 100 plus launch sites across England, Scotland and Wales courtesy of Virgin Balloon Flights, a two-night stay for two at the Sweetwaters Serena Camp and an 11-day safari, beach and photography holiday for two courtesy of Ol Pejeta, Ian Aiken and Watamu “beachcomber” beach Front House.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is also offering the chance for one lucky bidder to name one of the rhinos at the Conservancy. The highest bidder will be able to choose whether they would prefer to name a male or female rhino.

To find out more about the charity auction and the celebrities, artists, photographers and sculptors involved please visithttp://www.whitepawprofessionaldogtraining.com/#!about3/c7pi under the charity heading.

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For more information about Ol Pejeta and their work for rhino and wildlife conservation, their attractions on the sanctuary, accommodation options and special deals, visit www.olpejetaconservancy.org

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