OL-PEJETA CONSERVANCY The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000-acre (360 km2) not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya at Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development.
The Conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and in 2013 reached a population milestone of 100 black rhino. It also houses the two remaining northern white rhino in the world, who were moved here from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is situated here, and provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya where these great apes can be seen.
The Conservancy is host to the “Big five game” among a large selection of other African animals, which makes it a popular safari destination. It also operates a successful livestock program, which serves to benefit local pastoralists and wildlife. Through the conservancy’s community development programme, Ol Pejeta provides funding to surrounding communities to aid health, education, water and infrastructure projects. They also support the provision of agriculture and livestock extension services and the development of community-based conservation tourism ventures.
THE HISTORY Ol Pejeta’s ranching life started in the early 1940’s with Lord Delamere, well-known as one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya. Throughout the colonial era Ol Pejeta was a very successful beef ranch, but it is just as well known for the larger than life characters that owned and managed it during that time. One infamous owner was Adnan Khashoggi,a billionaire Turkish-Saudi Arabian arms-dealer and businessman.
By the late 1960’s, poaching in Kenya by colonial hunters had taken a serious toll on wildlife populations. Elephant and rhino numbers were plummeting, and although elephant hunting was declared illegal in Kenya in 1973, numbers continued to decline. This concerned one of Ol Pejeta’s previous owners, Lonrho Africa, who established the Sweetwaters Game Reserve in 1988 as a sanctuary for black rhino and other wildlife. Over time, the Game Reserve expanded to cover 90,000 acres – now Ol Pejeta.
In 2003 Ol Pejeta was purchased by Fauna and Flora International, together with a generous benefactor. The day to day operations are undertaken by Ol Pejeta Ranching Ltd, a commercial business that utilises agriculture and tourism to create surpluses wholly for reinvestment in conservation and community development.
Ol Pejeta Ranching Ltd. is 100% owned by Ol Pejeta Conservancy Ltd, which in turn a ‘Not-for-profit’ is as enshrined in its memorandum and articles of association. The company is governed by a voluntary board who draw no remuneration. 100% of funds generated must be used for Ol Pejeta conservation and community development – there is no other person or institution that benefits from any surpluses made. The ownership of the land is also safeguarded within this.