There are just three northern white rhino left in the world. All three live on Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, protected 24/7 in the hope that they might one day breed. The conservancy is also home to 113 black rhino, making it the largest sanctuary for these creatures in East Africa. And it is the only place in Kenya where it is possible to see chimpanzees, which the Conservancy (the Cons.) rescues from the black market and rehabilitates on its 90,000 acres in Lakipia County.
Beyond its own 90,000 acres, Ol Pejeta works to improve life in the surrounding communities. It supports six health centres, providing health care access to 20,000 rural community members. Its own dispensary attends to the medical needs of 450 community members every month; and this is backed up by a mobile clinic visiting more remote locations. It is also helping farmers develop rainwater harvesting, and has over 100,000 indigenous tree seedlings sown in 12 nurseries for catchment rehabilitation.
It works with local schools, supplying water, solar power, buildings, and ICT equipment. It supplies cookstoves and solar devices to households. Overall, it has committed to invest $6.5m in community development over the next six years as it bids to reduce human wildlife conflict incidents by 10% each year.
Such efforts make for better tourism, and they do so by making lives better for the communities where they operate. The tourists, who stay in the conservancy’s six camps, provide the bulk of its income and support 650 employees – most of whom come from the local area.
These tourists are also much more than just passive observers. While staying at the conservancy, they get the chance to go lion tracking, visit schools and clinics, and enjoy interactive sessions with K-9 security units. Such engagement translates online – despite having only 160 beds, the conservancy has 27,000 Twitter followers, 81,000 Facebook likes, and 35,200 followers on Instagram. Few people in the world will ever get to see the Northern White Rhino, but thanks to the presence of Ol Pejeta, many many more feel actively engaged in its survival.