Dear ATCNews Readers,
As 2018 comes to a close, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back over the last year and take stock of how we’ve grown as an organisation. It also gives us a chance to thank you for your endless support, which has allowed us to get to where we are today.
It has been an exciting 12 months and we are proud to share with you just a few of the many highlights. Most importantly, we are pleased to report that we had no incidents of poaching at all this year and we currently have 119 black rhinos.
EXPANSION INTO MUTARA
Ol Pejeta is now at its full carrying capacity for black rhinos, a considerable achievement when we look back to the 20 we first started with 15 years ago. Now, we must expand our conservation model further, finding new ways to improve and have a greater impact on a landscape level. We are all very excited about the future.
OL PEJETA, ‘DO MORE’
We’re always striving to improve the Ol Pejeta tourism experience for our guests, so over the last year we’ve been working on a number of additions and renovations just for you. Pelican House has had some serious work done, and now has a fresh face and new interiors – your ideal home in the wild. We took the old Morani’s Restaurant menu, chucked out the old, kept all the best and introduced some fabulous new options, including thing for vegans and gluten-free diners!
Ride the Wild, Gym in the Wild and Cycling Safari were brought in as new conservation experiences, bringing our total up to 14 – immersing you in unique, transformative conservation activities. We also paid some attention to our adoption and information centres, which are looking much cleaner and brighter. On top of that, we now offer even more ways for you to get involved in conservation, by sponsoring rhinos, tracker dogs and even sponsoring a child’s education.
RIP SUDAN, THE LAST MALE OF HIS KIND
In March, the world was saddened by the death of our beloved Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on earth, from age-related complications at 45 years old. In July, scientists stunned everyone with an incredible breakthroughin rhino IVF, heralding a potential renaissance of this magnificent species. They successfully created a hybrid embryo with northern white rhino sperm and a southern white rhino egg, and have since continued to take fantastic steps forward.
OL PEJETA IS RECOGNISED GLOBALLY
We were humbled by a number of awards this year which acknowledged our continued efforts in conservation, environment, livestock, agriculture and technology. In August, Ol Pejeta Beef participated in the Livestock Breeders’ Show in Nairobi, taking home the coveted Supreme Champion Bull trophy, amongst others. In May, we were recognised for achievements in agriculture and resource management (Research and Development, Medium Trade) by the Agricultural Society of Kenya. We were deeply honoured to be nominated as Africa’s Leading Conservation Company in the World Travel Awards in October, and to be included once again on the IUCN Green List in November. We were also delighted to recently win a Gold Mark and a Green Edge Award, awarded by CIO 100.
BO AND BELLA ARRIVE AS WE CELEBRATE 25 YEARS OF SWEETWATERS CHIMPANZEE SANCTUARY
We were very happy to welcome Bo and Bella in May, two young female chimpanzees from Guinea Bissau, just two months before the 25 year anniversary of Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. These adorable young things have settled in well to their new existence at the Sanctuary, as have many chimpanzees before them since we opened in 1993. Sweetwatersdoesn’t just work to rescue chimpanzees from appalling conditions around the world, but provides them with a safe and happy home for the rest of their lives.
GETTING FIT AND RAISING MONEY FOR RANGERS
31 participants from all over the world took part in our very first Virtual Ultra Marathon – where they covered 1,245 kms over the course of a year, from home, with any form of exercise they preferred. So far, they have raised over US$15,000, and have reached a collective distance of 26,693 kms. From Australia to Russia, Canada to Nairobi, they’ve run, walked, biked, rowed and convinced their friends and family to help them raise funds for rangers. Their efforts and support have been hugely encouraging and we are so grateful for their hard work, and what it means for the rangers who bravely protect our wildlife. There’s still time to sign up for the 2019 Virtual Ultra – the best way to live a healthier lifestyle while doing good for conservation.
As always, Ol Pejeta has been very much involved in educational development among our communities, with particular regard to ICT (information communication technology) integration. With the support of Afretech and the Rotary Club, we have been able to bring technology to hundreds of children, who have responded with marked enthusiasm. A critical part of this project’s success is the practical nature of the items, which are built to withstand dust, lack of power and poor network connectivity – so learning never has to stop. We also hosted a very happy Scholarship Day, along with our partners PA-MOJA, who continue to change the lives of so many needy students.
Ol Pejeta plans to be 100% solar powered by 2020. We’ve already converted our entire electric fence (all 120 kms of it) and have converted three of our 10 borehole pumps, with the generous support of the BA Carbon Fund, Pure Leapfrog and all the kind donations from our online GlobalGiving campaign back in June. This has already lead to cost savings of more US$ 7,000 per year, with more to follow, as well as hugely reduced fuel emissions and hours spent on logistics, maintenance and admin.
ART FOR CONSERVATION
Karen Laurence-Rowe is a passionate conservationist and an exceptional artist. She frequently uses her talent for capturing evocative and accurate wildlife scenes to raise awareness and funds for conservation. In February, she painted The Accuser, a stunning oil of a charging black rhino, in recognition of their fate worldwide. The sale of The Accuser raised enough money to partially fund a brand new Mobile Veterinary Unit, a huge help to our conservation efforts.
EXCITING EVENTS ON OL PEJETA!
Ol Pejeta has hosted a couple of wonderful sporting events this year – the annual Last Male Standing Cricket Tournament (now a three day affair), and the first ever ForRangers Ultra Marathon!
The cricket had 16 teams (up from just five eight years ago) competing under the sun out on Lodroe Plain, valiantly racing up and down the pitch with giraffes and zebras looking on. We had 270 people playing and spectating, from all over the world, including England, Australia, Mauritius, South Africa and the Carribean! They managed to raise a fantastic US$ 30,000 for rhino conservation and the Foundation for Youth Cricket and Education in Kenya.
Then in August the runners of the inaugural ForRangers Ultra finished their gruelling 230km course by the Equator Sign, with international marathon superstar Eliud Kipchoge on hand to award medals.
BETTER HEALTHCARE FOR COMMUNITY MOTHERS
Providing safe, accessible and affordable healthcare is one of our long-term community goals, especially for mothers and children. In June, together with the Rotary Clubs of Langley Canada and Nairobi North and the Laikipia County Government, we were pleased to donate medical equipment and improve infrastructure in six community dispensaries worth six million shillings (US$ 60,000). This has already begun to make a marked difference to the people we live alongside, and we are looking forward to rolling it out further and reaching even more families within our communities.