We decided to visit a place called Ol Pejeta Wildlife Reserve yesterday and it was wonderful. Expensive, but a great time seeing some amazing animals including seven white rhinos and one black rhino in the wild. We fed a blind black rhino by hand. We also learned that there are only four living northern white rhinos in the world, one in San Diego, and three in this reserve. One is infertile and the other has weak back legs, having been in captivity for so long. There is only one living male. The subspecies was wiped out to sell the horns to Asian markets in exchange for weapons during the Congolese civil war. (NOTE: The week we returned, the northern white rhino in San Diego died.)
Because of poaching, the remaining animals have to be guarded all the time. There are 87 or so black rhinos in the reserve and 64 white rhinos. We saw two baby white rhinos, so there is a healthy breeding population.
Unfortunately, about eleven rhinos were killed by poachers in Ol Pejeta since 2002 or so, so it is really slow going. I have to say, it is pretty sobering to stand at the gravesites of the eleven who were killed, knowing that their deaths were for nothing more than some mystical unproven aphrodisiac medicine in Asia related to the use of their horns. How can you justify murdering animals at any cost? But the market is such that the poachers are willing to murder these magnificent animals. We watched a family from about 25 feet away, incredibly wonderful experience. They are truly glorious creatures.
The hardest part of the whole experience was finding the place. We used google maps, which has saved us several times on this trip, but not this time. Google maps first sent us down a side road past a British military base to a gravel pit, and the second time past the Pentacostal Church to a rocky alleyway. “Your destination is on the right,” the reassuring Google lady told us. We looked out the car window into the face of a bewildered shopkeeper selling cellphone minutes in a rusty tin roof shack in the middle of a slum. We were supposed to be in a wild game reserve at a resort. Five stop and ask for direction adventures later, we made it. Definitely worth the trouble.