Poachers Strike on Ol Pejeta Conservancy

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Date: 
25 March 2013

Another Black Rhino Loses Its Life to Poaching

(Nanyuki, Kenya). As the triennial Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) drew to a close last week in Bangkok, and after conservationists all around the world sounded the alarm on rhino poaching, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy lost a female black rhino to poachers.

On March 14th, 2013, at approximately 6:20pm, gunshots were heard on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Our armed teams responded right away. During their deployment, they came face to face with four of the poachers, exchanged gunfire and it is believed that some of the poachers were wounded. However, in the end, the poachers got away. Our security team is currently working with the Kenya Police and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) anti-poaching unit to follow any possible leads to apprehend the culprits.

rhino poached on Ol Pejeta Conservancy rhino poached on Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Upendo was a 22-year-old female black rhino and was brutally killed by poachers on Ol Pejeta on the 14th of March
Both her horns were taken and her one month old calf was found clinging to its mother's body by our rangers

The rhino that was brutally killed was a 22-year-old female named Upendo; both her horns were taken. She had lived on Ol Pejeta since 2007 after she was translocated from the nearby Solio Ranch with her calf Richard. On February 25th, just three weeks before she was poached, Upendo gave birth to a healthy male calf. After the incident, the calf was found clinging to its mother’s body, unharmed, but distressed and calling for its mother. He was flown to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on the same day and is being cared for together with another small black rhino named Nicky by four caregivers. He is being fed milk and drinks about eight liters a day. He has settled in slowly and is getting used to his caregivers.

black rhino calf black rhino calf
This is Upendo's one month old calf. After the poaching incident he was flown to Lewa where he is being watched by four caregivers. He is being fed milk daily. 
The first few days were difficult for this young calf who kept calling for his mother, but he has now settled in nicely on Lewa and is making friends with his caregivers. 

“Cases of rhino poaching are on the rise and though this is the first incident in over a year, we are nonetheless working on increasing our security measures by working with government agencies and international partners to deploy aerial drones to help protect our wildlife,” Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO confirms the Conservancy’s commitment to protecting its flagship species.

The hefty price paid for rhino horn has led to international crime syndicates cashing in on the illegal killing of rhinos, giving poachers access to sophisticated gadgets and equipment. Conservationists warn that Africa’s rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in decades, with the most serious poaching upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Black rhino populations are currently at 5,055 and are listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Photos available upon request. Contact Elodie Sampere @ elodie.sampere@olpejetaconservancy.org

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The Ol Pejeta Conservancy occupies approximately 360 square kilometers 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.

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