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SINGLE LARGEST RHINO TRANSLOCATION IN EAST AFRICA SUCCESSFULLY UNDERWAY

How Ol Pejeta Conservancy is creating the largest breeding population of black rhinos in East Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 16, 2007 --/WORLD-WIRE/--
On the 3rd of February the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy commenced the single biggest rhino translocation ever undertaken in East Africa.

The translocation is half-way done. 22 rhinos have been successfully released into the enlarged 75,000 acres of Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This includes the free release of a mother-calf combination.

The experienced translocation team has been equipping each rhino with a transmitter, placed in the horn. These transmitters have allowed complete post-release monitoring of the animals, ensuring their well-being and safety. Once 34 rhinos have been translocated, Ol Pejeta Conservancy will hold a breeding population of 79 black rhino - the single largest in East Africa.

The black rhinos are being moved from adjacent Solio Rhino Sanctuary - which currently holds a surplus of 30 rhinos. This crucial translocation will ensure that maximum breeding rates are achieved and adequate food resources maintained.

Conservation of endangered species in their natural habitat represents a major part of Ol Pejeta's mission. Black rhinos remain critically endangered and efforts to successfully conserve this species and ultimately develop a viable national population will represent a land mark achievement in wildlife conservation.

In Kenya the numbers of black rhino dropped from an estimated 20,000 in the 1970s to less than 300 animals in the 1980s. This drastic decline was due to unabated poaching which took place inside and outside National Parks and Reserves. Kenya was at the forefront of efforts to offer concentrated and effective protection in sanctuaries, a strategy that has been a major factor in the increase in numbers of black rhinos worldwide.

Through various conservation initiatives, the remaining black rhino population has been protected from intense poaching and the current population in Kenya is estimated at 539. By 2010 Kenya will aim to increase its black rhino numbers to 650. One major challenge to coping with the gradual but steady increase in rhino numbers will be the limited availability of areas with suitable habitat and adequate security; the expansion of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy will help in this regard by providing a further 75,000 acres of prime black rhino habitat.

Photos of the translocation are available upon request. Please contact Melissa Duveen at pr@olpejetaconservancy.org.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy occupies approximately 360 square kilometers of African savannah within the Laikipia District of Kenya and incorporates the Sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary. Laikipia carries large and growing wildlife populations and is home to almost 50% of Kenya's black rhino population. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprise for reinvestment in conservation and community development.

Visit www.olpejetaconservancy.org/.

CONTACT:
Melissa Duveen
Public Relations Manager
+254 / (0) 623-2408
pr@olpejetaconservancy.org

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