Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a private wildlife conservancy located on the equator in the Laikipia District. The conservancy has been in the news a bit lately because it is now “housing” 4 of the last known 8 Northern White Rhinos in the world! The rhinos were living in a zoo in Czech Republic but were transferred to Kenya and Ol Pejeta right before christmas as a last effort to save the nearly extinct rhino subspecies. For the first time, the four Northern White Rhinos can eat grass and walk on the african soil. In captivity, they only knew about cement grounds. They now have to get used to the african heat and forget about snowy winters. You can read more about the rhinos and about Ol Pejeta Conservancy on the following webside: http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/node/215
After driving for a few hours from Samburu, we arrived at Ol Pejeta in time for lunch. After lunch we had a small siesta and then headed out on a hunt for more wildlife. We saw a wild White Rhino in the distance and some of the more usual game such as
Thompson’s Gazelles (Tommy’s), Impalas, Giraffes, some Elephants, and also some buffaloes, a first for us.
In the later afternoon we got invited to see when some hyena researchers played hyena sounds in large speakers from their car. The sound was awful! But it tricked the hyenas, who soon popped their heads out from their burrow. There were both grown ones and babies. Then we saw herds of animals running around in the distance and figured that something was out there, chasing them. One of the hyena researchers looked through his binoculars and told us that a couple of wild dogs were on a kill. We abandoned the hyenas for now and went off track (with a park ranger of course) to check out the wild dogs. Apparently the wild dogs were new to the park, they had not been spotted before. Again, we were told how very lucky we were to see wild dogs. =o)
We got quite close to the wild dogs who had just made a kill and were munching away while eagles were sitting them nearby, watching them closely. A couple of times they flew over the wild dogs and at one point, one of the dogs jumped up to try and grab the eagle. Quite an amazing thing to experience! The wild dogs finished the small kill and soon they went off to hunt some zebras. Wild dogs are amazing runners and they pursue their prey through a long and open chase. Apparently, up to 80% of the hunts end in a successful kill!
The wild dogs disappeared in the descending darkness and we had to stop our chase. You’re not supposed to be out in a park after dark. We had a couple of drinks by our cars to celebrate our luck to see wild dogs again, and also some hyenas. It was a nice “sundowner”.
The next morning around 6 am, after a quick coffee in the restaurant, we headed out for our morning game drive. It was very chilly and we all dressed in sweaters and put maasai blankets around us. Again, we saw some of the usual game, but also around 5 Black Rhinos, big bull Buffaloes and also a Coypu. A Coypu is a semiaquatic rodent and it is not native to Africa, but comes from South America! It is said that some coypus escaped from some farm and is now wild. It is however considered to be a pest in most places.
We went back to camp for some delicious buffet breakfast and after that we visited the Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Chimpanzees don’t live in Kenya naturally, but this sanctuary take care of chimps that have been sold to private people, been in circuses, been someone’s pet, saved from butchery and other horrible things. The individuals are introduced to the growing population of chimps in the sanctuary and well taken care of. It’s pretty amazing that they have that sanctuary for all the unlucky chimpanzees that they can save.
After the visit to the sanctuary, we visited a blind Black Rhino that they take care of at the park. The rhino is named Baraka, which means free or freedom. Baraka used to be in the wild, but after he lost his sight he was taken to the Morani complex in the conservancy to be looked after. There is a feeding station where Baraka lives and one can go up on the platform and get very close to the rhino and touch him, smell him and share all the flies around him.
That afternoon, on our game drive, we happened upon 3 cheetahs! Apparently brothers. We stuck with them to get some great photos and video, but unfortunately, in the heat, they mostly slept. When the started to go down they stretched and started to walk off. At some point they had a rolling session, just rolling around in the grass and then they lay down again. When the dark was close and we had to start driving back to camp, the cheetahs walked off in to the wilderness.
And that was Ol Pejeta Conservancy. A great experience!