Dear ATCNews Readers,
As the year draws to a close, I wanted to invite you to look back over the past 12 months with me in this final newsletter of 2019. Whether you’ve been to visit us, supported us financially in some way, or just kept up to date with our work through our social channels, you are a valued part of the Ol Pejeta network. I am hugely proud of what we’ve achieved this year, for people, for wildlife and for Kenya, and I hope you’ll enjoy this brief digital reminisce with me.
A GROUNDBREAKING PROCEDURE GAVE US ALL HOPE FOR THE NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS
People all over the world joined us to mourn the passing of Sudan, rendering the northern white rhino functionally extinct. It wasn’t just that we lost a very special soul, it was that his death represented the grim reality of human greed, and its ongoing impact on so many aspects of our planet. One year on, we made history with partners Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Avantea, Dvůr Králové Zoo, and the Kenya Wildlife Service, when an ovum retrieval procedure from the last two northern white females enabled two embryos to be created. This is a world first for rhinos, and gives us real hope for the future of the northern whites.
OUR RANGERS MADE US PROUD
When they are not on the front lines of wildlife protection and monitoring, our rangers act as ambassadors for conservation. This year saw the world premier of Kifaru, a film that tells the story of Sudan and two of his caregivers at Ol Pejeta, James Mwenda and Joseph (Jojo) Thuita. Screenings were held in the US, Europe and South Africa, and James and Jojo flew to attend many of them to meet audiences, answer questions, and help raise awareness of the plight of rhinos across Africa. Another two of our rangers were honoured with awards this year in recognition of their extraordinary work. Out of hundreds of nominations the Head of our Rapid Response Team, Simon Irungu, was awarded an African Rangers Award, where he was commended his leadership and bravery. Joseph Maiyo, Head Supervisor at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, received the prestigious Siddle-Marsden Award for his commitment to the rescued chimpanzees in his care — a much needed boost for him after what has been a tough year at Sweetwaters.
By the way, you can still support our rangers through our End of Year Campaign before 31st of December!
WE LOST CHIMPANZEES ANGELA AND AJABU TO PNEUMONIA
It was a nightmare come true for the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary staff at the beginning of this year, when an outbreak of bacterial pneumonia was detected. Despite the vet team’s best efforts, sisters and best friends Angela and Ajabu died, with Ajabu leaving behind her one-year-old baby Jobo. The team worked quickly to quarantine all the other chimpanzees, and took little Jobo into intensive care. Thankfully, he’s doing really well, and will slowly be reintegrated back into the group. He’s been assigned a foster mother to watch over him, and carry on where Ajabu left off.
ANOTHER YEAR WITH NO RHINO POACHING
For the second year in a row, Ol Pejeta are proud to report zero incidents of rhino poaching, despite the continued threat from poachers and an unrelenting demand for horn on the black market. We had 16 black rhino calves born on Ol Pejeta this year, and four southern white rhinos. But the wild is still the wild, and death is of course an important part of the cycle here. We lost seven rhinos to predation this year, and one from natural causes. Our total rhino population at the year end is 132 black rhinos (12 more than our 2020 target), and 35 southern white rhinos.
WE OPENED A CONSERVATION RESEARCH AND INNOVATION LAB
An innovative attitude is part of our make-up, and in a rapidly changing world we embrace new approaches to conservation, and want to support the research that helps shape those approaches. That is why in May we partnered with Fauna & Flora International, Liquid Telecom, Arm and The Royal Foundation, to open the Conservation Tech Lab. Folks in the lab are currently working on a number of projects, including developing a more secure and effective monitoring system for Ol Pejeta’s rhinos and other endangered species.
WE USED CONSERVATION TO EDUCATE AND INSPIRE YOUNG MINDS
Our work to protect endangered species and habitats means nothing if the next generation aren’t inspired to do the same. This year, over 25,000 Kenya students visited the Conservancy and 570 students from all over the world have taken part in our Conservation in Action programme, which aims to inspire and empower children to be agents of change in their communities. The programme is as hands on as possible, and involves planting trees, and learning about wildlife and the threats to their future. 14 of our scholarship students graduated from high school this year (you can sponsor a child through school here), and eight schools engaged in our ICT education project – which aims to bring the learning opportunities of the internet to schools with no power or wifi.
WE SUPPORTED ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE FOR THOSE THAT NEED IT THE MOST
Many of the communities living along our borders are several hours travel away from the nearest health facility, which is why Ol Pejeta supports a weekly medical outreach programme with help from donations and volunteers. Over the past 12 months our outreach professionals have treated 4,500 patients, with a special focus on maternal health and child welfare. We have also been running a jigger campaign to help eradicate this debilitating parasite from households. So far, over 136 children have been treated, with remarkable impact on their happiness and productivity at school.
Thank you for being a conservation champion. I hope we can enjoy your continued support, in whatever form it takes, in 2020.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy