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Ol Pejeta reaches new milestone with birth of 100th black rhino

30/10/2013 09:28:46

The best photo thyat Ol Pejeta staff could get of the 100th black rhino on Ol Pejeta! Njeri and new-born calf duck into the thick vegetation at the slightest sound or smell.

Kenyan rhino numbers beginning to climb
October 2013. In the 1970s there were more than 20,000 black rhinos in Kenya, but the rise in poaching in the 1980s as a result of demand for rhino horn saw these numbers plummet to less than 400. In response to the drastic reduction of the rhino population, Kenya decided to set up specially protected and fenced sanctuaries for rhino conservation. The creation of these sanctuaries was designed to maximize breeding potential, using surplus animals to re-stock any new areas. Ol Pejeta is one such sanctuary.

Founder population of 20 rhinos
Between 1989 and 1993, 20 black rhinos were moved to Ol Pejeta, as a founder population to establish the black rhino sanctuary. Over the years, management worked tirelessly to care for its black rhino population; monitoring their habitat and providing security, thus enabling the Conservancy to obtain the distinction of becoming the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. And while Ol Pejeta has suffered losses in the last few years due to poaching, on 1st October 2013, Ol Pejeta reached a crucial milestone. We recorded our 9th rhino birth this year bringing the total black rhino population in the Conservancy to 100!

The birth of the 100th black rhino on Ol Pejeta is truly cause for celebration as the Conservancy is now a Key 1 black rhino population on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group categorization. It is the only black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and one of only eight sanctuaries in Africa with this distinction.

Rhinos continue to face the worst poaching crisis in decades and Ol Pejeta, like many other sanctuaries throughout the country, has not been immune to this threat, losing a black rhino earlier this year. Consequently Ol Pejeta have spent over KShs 70 million over the past 24 months to upgrade its security operations. Despite these challenges, concerted conservation efforts worldwide have seen the black rhino population rise to 5,055.

About the 100th Black Rhino
On 1st October, Njeri, a 12-year-old black rhino, was spotted by rangers on patrol with a calf estimated to be three-days-old. Mother and calf looked healthy and alert, ducking into the thick vegetation at the slightest sound or smell. Njeri was moved to Ol Pejeta in 2007 as part of the translocation exercise addressing the over-population in Solio. In 2010, she gave birth to her first calf named Kathini who has now gone to live on her own.

The new-born calf, which is yet to be sexed or named, has only been spotted a couple of times as the mother is very protective. They hide deep in the bush surrounded by acacia trees and it is very hard getting close to them. The new calf and mother are carefully monitored by a team of rangers equipped with hand-held radios and a pair of binoculars. Their primary focus is to identify individual rhino on a daily basis but at the same time act as eyes and ears in the field to prevent any potential poaching threat.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy occupies approximately 360 square kilometres of African savannah within the Laikipia District of Kenya and incorporates the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Laikipia carries large and growing wildlife populations and is home to almost 50% of Kenya's black rhino population. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprise for reinvestment in conservation and community development. Visit

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