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Wildlife in Laikipia

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Laikipia is increasingly recognized as one of the jewels in Kenya’s safari crown. The district contains a wealth of endangered species, including black rhinos, whose world population is between three thousand and four thousand, nearly six hundred of them in Kenya. Of those, half are in Laikipia. As browsers rather than grazers, black rhinos don’t interfere with cattle pasture, and do well in the same environment so long as the bush isn’t cleared. Apart from the rhinos, more than two thousand elephants still undertake a seasonal migration during the long rains from Laikipia northwards into the Samburu rangelands. The district also supports an estimated 25 percent of the world’s remaining population of Grevy’s zebra, a species fast disappearing in its other habitats in Ethiopia. There are also several elusive packs of African wild dogs.

In Laikipia, wildlife tends to be more closely managed than in the national parks. Rhinos, for example, are individually monitored by assigned rangers, while predators are often radio-collared to enable them to be tracked. Recently, some conservancies have experimented with SIM-card-tagging problem elephants so that rangers receive a text on their mobiles when they stray into farmlands. The solutions may seem unnatural, but they’re working, and visitors are often encouraged to participate – in radio-tracking wild dogs, for example. For further information, check out the excellent website of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (wlaikipia.org), the body that coordinates the region’s various interest groups and visitor facilities. The very useful guidebook, Laikipia: A Natural History Guide, is available on the site as a free download.

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