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Lewa Assists with Translocation of Endangered Hartebeest

November 27, 2008

On November 8, 2008, in close partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy started the translocation of approximately 480 Lelwel hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus lelwel) from the eastern sector of Solio Ranch in the Laikipia District of Kenya.

The translocation ended on November 21. A total of 199 hartebeest were relocated; as well as 140 plains zebras.

Earlier this year, 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. The Sector contained numerous wildlife species including 480 Lelwel hartebeest (a rare and unique species in the District); 600 plains zebra; 210 impala; 1,020 Thomson’s gazelle; 36 oryx; and 41 eland.

All these animals were faced with numerous threats including bushmeat poaching since word went public that the sector had been disposed. We knew that all the wildlife within Sector D would be decimated once the take-over of the land is finalized later this year. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in partnership with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Tusk Trust and Tusk USA raised emergency funds which allowed the translocation to get underway. We are extremely grateful to a consortium of donors, who very generously and swiftly responded to this appeal at such short notice.

The capture technique for this translocation 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 numbers of wildlife moved from the Sector D of Solio Ranch are as follows:

• 199 hartebeest:
- 64 were moved to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
- 100 were moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
- 35 were moved to Mugie Ranch
• 135 zebras. These animals were moved to Mwea National Reserve and to the Aberdares National Park.

All the animals that have been translocated are being monitored. There are still animals left on Solio Ranch and there is still time to relocate them. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and its partners are looking for additional resources to complete this translocation.