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From a working cattle ranch in colonial Kenya, to a trailblazer of conservation innovation - the story of Ol Pejeta is as enchanting as it is inspirational.
Today, Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to three of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. It is the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, in a Sanctuary established to rehabilitate animals rescued from the black market. It has some of the highest predator densities in Kenya, and still manages a very successful livestock programme. Ol Pejeta also seeks to support the people living around its borders, to ensure wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.
In 2004, the ranch was purchased by the U.K.-based conservation organisation, Fauna &Flora International (FFI), with the financial backing of the Arcus Foundation, a private international philanthropic organisation founded by Jon Stryker. The land purchase was wholly funded by a $15 million donation from the Arcus Foundation, which worked in tandem with FFI and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to secure the 90,000 acres of open Savannah grassland and convert it to a national land trust.
The conservation of the natural habitat, located in Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, ensured the protection of existing rhino, elephant, and other wildlife populations in addition to captive chimpanzees living in a 300-acre sanctuary.
The Arcus Foundation also gave $12 million to fund capital and institutional development costs at the conservancy. That initial injection of funding allowed Ol Pejeta Conservancy to fulfill its business model as a Kenyan-owned operation benefiting local community development and economic growth in addition to its impact on conservation.
Today, the Arcus Foundation continues to support the conservancy through its membership on the Board of Trustees and the funding of various initiatives.
In 2014, Ol Pejeta achieved IUCN Green List status, one of only two conservancies in Africa to be awarded this. IUCN Green Listing aims to define excellence in managing valuable natural areas. We have also been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence three years running - a testament to the incredible experiences treasured by all who visit Ol Pejeta.
In 2015, we published our 2020 Management Plan - which was developed by our staff in consultation with a range of stakeholders, and sets out our vision for the years leading up to 2020, outlining the major projects that will help us to deliver our vision. We want to become an innovative and sustainable model that conserves biodiversity (particularly endangered species) and contributes to economic growth and the improvement of the livelihoods of rural communities.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000-acre (360 km2) not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya's 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 three 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.