When you are out on a safari, you think of the big five. You want to spot the lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino. Do you ever think, today I’d love to see the chimps or extinct species of rhinos? More often, we run to the Mara(I probably still will) but when you have been to the Mara why not try explore other destinations. When we chose Mutara Camp as a destination I had no idea that Ol Pejeta Conservancy is just a stone throw away. Moreover, I was not aware of what Ol Pejeta as a conservancy had.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is found in Central Kenya’s Laikipia County and is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, at the foothills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kenya. The Conservancy sits on 90,000 acres and still boasts of the big five which makes it a popular safari destination.
I’m tempted to talk about the big five but I promise, I won’t. I’ll talk about the less famous animals in the Animalia kingdom that contribute to the ecology as well. Finally getting my science right guys.
Let’s start with the oxpeckers. Ever heard of them? Well, oxpeckers are birds. How do you spot an oxpecker? When you spot a buffalo, zebra or rhino chances are you’ve already spotted one. They lay on their back eating ticks and other parasites that live on their skin. A symbiotic relationship where they get food and the beasts get pest control. Also, when there is danger, they fly upward and scream a warning, which helps the symbiont sense the presence of danger.
Spot the oxpeckers or enjoying the buffalo view? I did both.
I’m sure you know an antelope. Hartebeest anyone? Commonly known as Kongoni. The Jackson’s hartebeest is a high-shouldered, long-legged, short-necked animal with a long narrow face. Despite it sounding slightly awkward, it can reach speeds of up to 70 kph. Ol Pejeta hosts an estimated 180 and list them as one of the endangered species found in the conservancy. The lions and spotted hyenas are thought to be the biggest threat to the Ol Pejeta population. Ol Pejeta’s Ecological Monitoring Unit is currently working to collect data on the exact predation pressure facing the Conservancy’s hartebeest and will use this to make plans for future conservation.
Double hartebeest at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. (I do not own rights to this photo).
Horns of the antelope species
The Black/Silver backed jackal is a fix-like animal with a reddish-brown to tan coat and a black saddle that extends from the shoulders to the base of the tail. It is a monogamous animal, whose young may remain with the family to help raise new generations of pups. The black-backed jackal is not a fussy eater and is smart enough to eat anything nutritious when larger meals are in short supply.
Apart from the wildlife, Ol Pejeta Conservancy also operates a successful livestock program with over 6,000 cows, which serves to benefit local pastoralists and wildlife. Through this, it’s able to cater for basic operating costs through its own sustainable, commercially generated revenues – tourism and agriculture. Ol Pejeta’s top quality, free-range beef is sought-after by Nairobi’s top butchers and restaurants. The beef enterprise attains an annual turnover of USD 1 million, which plays a significant role in Ol Pejeta’s conservation efforts. This additional income supplements wildlife programmes, research, ranger’s salaries and other operating costs.
The safari was very informative. I’ll do two follow up post on Rhinos (including Baraka the blind rhino) and Chimpanzees found in Ol Peteja Conservancy.
Till then, let’s keep it: