By JAMES MURIMI @Jamesmurymy
We left our offices in Nyeri town early on a chilly morning and headed for Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in Laikipia County, 100km away. Our mission was to see four of the world’s last remaining seven Northern white rhinos.
On arrival at the 90,000-acre conservancy at around 9am, we were given a red-carpet welcome by the ranch’s tourism manager, Annick Mitchell. She then took us through the spectacular flora and fauna on the ranch. Besides being the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, Ol Pejeta is also the only game reserve in Africa that hosts the four Northern white rhinos.
The other three are hosted at Dvur Kralove Zoo in Czech Republic. The rhinos are said to be the very last lifeline for the species, making them the world’s rarest mammals. As our vehicle snaked through the expansive conservancy, our eyes were glued to the windows, gazing at the beautiful herds of giraffe, impala, zebras, buffalos and elephants.
The conservancy currently hosts 101 black rhinos and 22 white rhinos. We were then introduced to the rhino head caregiver Mohammed Doyo, who has been taking care of the four Northern white rhinos since they were translocated from Czech Republic in December 2009.
Suni, Sudan, Najin and Fatu were transferred to the conservancy in a bid to provide the rhinos with suitable breeding environment and salvage them from extinction. Sudan and Suni are mature males aged 41 and 36 while Najin and Fatu are females aged 26 and 13, respectively.
As we approached their sanctuary, Suni was grazing peacefully with two Southern white rhinos. “This is aimed at getting the best crossbreed so as to enhance survival,” Mohammed explained. Najin and her calf Fatu were grazing peacefully deep inside the wild conservancy but Sudan, who is the oldest, was caged.
These rhinos had originated from Northern Sudan and Northern Congo but were transferred to Czech Republic since they were getting extinct due to persistent tribal wars. “The dietary, climatic and security conditions at the zoo in the Czech were too harsh and they had to be airlifted to Kenya,” said the caregiver.
Mohammed, who has worked as a qualified rhino head caregiver for 25 years said that the aim of interacting the Northern and Southern white rhinos is to make them adapt and enhance cross-breeding. “We have introduced them to African carrots, bananas, apples and pellets among other suitable diets.
I like rhinos and I don’t understand why people poach these wonderful animals,” said Mohammed. Mitchell castigated travel advisories issued by Western nations warning their citizens against coming to Kenya. “The country is safe,” she said, adding that despite challenges of terror threats and subsequent travel advisories, the tourism industry has remained resilient.
“Our tourist uptake at Ol Pejeta is currently at 70 per cent occupancy and it’s time that positive message is passed worldwide. The country has great products,” said the tourism manager. Jens Nolte and Stefan Koensgen, who own Social Tourist Company in Munich City, Germany, told Travelwise that they were touring Kenya for both business and leisure.
The seven members and their families, said they felt ‘good and secure’ after enjoying the beautiful beaches and the diverse culture at the Coast, as well as the wildlife at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
“We are not only here just for adventure but also to scout for a favourable place where we can set up a company called Hastef African Adventures. We have been travelling with trustful partners and we feel safe in Kenya,” said Koensgen.
Courtesy of mediamaxnetwork.co.ke