Since November 2008, we have moved a total of 400 animals: 245 hartebeest; 140 plains zebra and 15 impalas.
- 245 hartebeest:
- 64 were moved to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
- 146 were moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
- 35 were moved to Mugie Ranch
- 140 zebras.These animals were moved to Mwea National Reserve and to the Aberdares National Park.
- 15 impalas, which were moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
With more funds we can move more animals. The Kenya Wildlife Service is actively working to raise funds to move additional animals. We are doing our part to help them.
So how do we capture hartebeest?
When the translocation first started, in November 2008, the capture technique involved the use of helicopters and numerous trucks to transport the animals. The animals were helicopter-shepherded into curtained traps that funneled them into loading ramps which led to the trucks. Given the urgency of the situation, the translocation had to take place during the rainy season. The team lost about 4 days to the rain, when the exercise had to be suspended. There were times when the team had to work at night.
The capture started again in early February 2009, once we were able to raise more funds. For this capture, it was decided to catch the animals at night. Our team had learned from the previous capture and knew that we would have better success if it was done in the dark. Hartebeest are smart animals, and difficult to catch during the day.Traps were set again, but with nets this time, and the animals were channeled into the traps with the use of a vehicle and a spotlight. Each animal was ear-tagged so that we could identify them upon release. The night capture are extremely taxing on the team, and can only go on for about 5 days. But in 5 days, we were able to catch 46 hartebeest and 15 impalas. All we need now are more funds to continue the translocation.
There are only about 1,000 Lelwel hartebeest left in Kenya. They are only found in two places: (1) Ruma National Park, where only a few dozen animals remain. and (2) a population of approximately 1,000 individuals in Laikipia District. This Laikipia population has been shown to be genetically diverse. 75% of this population is found on Solio Ranch.
In 2008, it was announced that the entire Sector D of Solio Ranch (eastern boundary), measuring approximately 15,500 acres had been sold to the Government of Kenya’s Settlement Trustee Fund to re-settle squatters from Laikipia District. Sector D is home to 480 Lelwel hartebeest ; 600 plains zebra; 210 impala; 1,020 Thomson’s gazelle; 36 oryx; and 41 eland. These animals have co-existed with Solio livestock over the years and have not been confined to Sector D alone; rather they have seasonally moved into other sectors of the ranch, as the separating fences have been porous to both wildlife and livestock. However, a-10 strand electric fence that cuts off Sector D, from the rest of Solio Ranch was completed recently, completely restricting wildlife to that block of the ranch.
Since November 2008, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service have gathered funds to move the hartebeest and other wildlife from Sector D. Unless these animals are moved, they will die at the hands of poachers. So far we have been able to move 245 hartebeest; 140 plains zebra and 25 impalas.
We are running out of time and out of funds. People have already started to move onto the Ranch. There are still about 200 hartebeest that need to be moved.