General

Day visitors are also welcome at Ol Pejeta Ranch which is the busiest conservancy in Laikipia thanks to the presence of a 40-room tented camp, and the closest to Nanyuki Airport. Ol Pejeta incorporates the original Sweetwaters Game Reserve, which was set aside in 1988 as a rhino sanctuary, but it now incorporates the entire 365-sq-km (140-sq-mile) ranch following its acquisition by the UK-based conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International. Game viewing here is excellent, with a good chance of encountering lion, elephant, buffalo, and black and white rhino over the course of an overnight stay. Also present are reticulated giraffe, Beisa oryx, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle (the latter an unusually dark form), Jackson’s hartebeest and Beisa oryx. Both Kenyan species of zebra are present and it is the one place we are aware of where they regularly hybridise.

Two smaller sanctuaries and more specialised sanctuaries lie within Ol Pejeta. The better known is the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which was founded in 1993 to protect orphaned chimps, housed at the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi prior to the outbreak of civil war there. This is Kenya’s only population of chimpanzee (which does not occur in the country naturally) and it can be viewed from the footpath forming part of the sanctuary’s boundary that follows the opposite bank of the Ewaso Nyiro River. Rather more esoteric is the White Rhino Sanctuary, where four of the world’s last eight remaining northern white rhino have lived since they were transported there from a European zoo in 2008. Easily distinguished from their southern counterparts by their hairier ears, the sanctuary’s northern rhinos have all been dehorned, a move that makes them less vulnerable to poachers (and, it must be said, less attractive to photograph).

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