Helping a blind calf to see and other success stories
(This article was originally published in The Horn autumn 2016. Author: Jamie Gaymer, Wildlife and Security Manager, Ol Jogi)
Life on a rhino conservancy never has a dull moment. 2016 has been no exception here at Ol Jogi, just north of the Equator in Kenya, but fortunately this year we have not been subjected to the tragedy of previous years. Rather, we have a number of success stories. Nevertheless, we cannot sit on our laurels and the threat is as imminent as ever. We must forge ahead, invest in our infrastructure, train our men and generally improve our systems.
Every day, the news tells of another rhino poaching incident across Africa. In fact, at current rates, the norm is about 3 to 4 rhinos per day. The best possible way for us to avoid poaching is to be proactive in our strategy, to try to anticipate the unexpected and to stay ahead of the poaching cartels. We must learn from our experience and that of others. In order for us to do this, partnerships are essential. They allow us to share the burden and build capacity with the help of others. Save the Rhino has been a pillar of support for Ol Jogi in years past but also in 2016. Here are a few of the projects that SRI has partnered with Ol Jogi, whether directly or indirectly.
On 14 March 2016, a black rhino named Manuela had her first calf on Ol Jogi. On 18 March, just four days later, it was confirmed that the calf was totally blind and needed to be relocated to our rhino enclosures for treatment and care. SRI supports an “Emergency Fund” initiative through the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS), of which Ol Jogi is a member, and – thanks to SRI’s donors – has contributed matching funds towards the relocation, treatment and feeding of the calf. Amazingly, the infection that caused the blindness has gone following the treatment and a few months later the calf continues to regain its eyesight. Eventually, once it can fend for itself, it will be released back into the wild.
SRI lent further support, this time from a capacity perspective, in helping Ol Jogi compile various donor grant applications. Irrespective of the outcome, donor grant applications are a laborious task and technical knowhow is certainly required in order to fulfill the necessary requirements. So far, Ol Jogi has received approval for the following projects:
- USFW has approved a grant to transition from an analogue radio network to a digital radio infrastructure at Ol Jogi. This will bring us up to par with other neighbouring rhino conservancies and also possesses several technological capabilities that will improve our security significantly. This transition will take place by the end of 2016
- Berlin Zoo and Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde GmbH have approved a grant to train our frontline rangers. The training is scheduled to take place in October 2016 and is essential both for the survival of our rhinos and indeed, the rangers themselves
SRI has a great understanding of the issues faced in conserving rhinos at the grass-roots level. They are personally familiar with conservancies, individuals and projects throughout Africa and Asia. It is this understanding that ensures 100% of proceeds are invested into the areas that require attention and are of poignant conservation value.
Since November 2015, we have sent £20,035 from our Rhino Dog Squad appeal to help pay for Ol Jogi’s canine unit, $75,988 from USFWS RTCF and £2,150 from our core funds for the digital radios, and €8,000 from Berlin Zoo and Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde GmbH for ranger training, as well as a total of £9,600 for the APLRS Emergency Fund, thanks to grants from the Swire Charitable Trust, Marjorie Coote Animal Charity Trust and the Robert Cave Memorial Fund for Emergency Fund.