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Vets International turns 7 today!

Based on the striking Laikipia Plateau, Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy is located under Mt. Kenya, where the landscape has the largest diversity of big mammals on the planet. One of the most remarkable conservancies in Africa, Ol Jogi represents an important breeding ground for some of the most critically endangered species, with almost 60,000 acres of untouched wilderness.

Created over 40 years ago, the aim of Ol Jogi is to preserve natural habitats and wildlife with a multi-faceted, One Health approach to conservation. A safe haven to roughly 7000 large mammals, it hosts elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffe, antelopes, small cats, and primates.

This private conservancy has a system that comprises first of rescue and care, then release into a highly protected environment, and onward into the large conservancy.

Vice President of Programs, Erin Ivory and myself, journeyed to Kenya this summer, successfully establishing an exciting new partnership with the Ol Jogi Conservancy, and University of Nairobi, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. What we saw was glaring disparities between public and private infrastructure, and a niche for Veterinarians International to be able to help.

Identifying the ideal model to put VI’s creativity and ingenuity to work, we proposed to create a gold standard for the rest of the world, focused on the One Health Center of Excellence at Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy. It is a place where local and international veterinary students and various stakeholders can visit, study, and practice on protected landscapes. Ol Jogi has one of the most advanced veterinary hospitals in all of East Africa, our goal is to provide highly-trained, experienced veterinarians and animal keepers  to serve the region with optimal capacity.

All-encompassing, the program will have a broad impact on a comprehensive scope with an intersection of three animal groups: companion animals, livestock, and a focus on wildlife. We seek to create access to skilled veterinary care for all animals, while exemplifying kindness and compassion, and educating locals to do the same.

We consider and examine global similarities of the biodiversity crisis, ecological collapse, and wildlife concerns, but always work with the microcosm of the region as it intersects with its communities. 

Key elements of the program are:

We wish to extend a special thank you to Veronica McMahan for making all of this possible.

Ol Jogi’s Wildlife Rescue Centre was created in 1986 to care for wildlife that has been orphaned or injured as a direct result of human activity. The focus of the centre is rehabilitating and then releasing wildlife orphans whenever possible.

With parents of Zimbabwe origin, Maisha was born at the centre, but unfortunately her mother, Jackie, died of a viral infection about 5 years ago. 

The only one of five orphaned cubs brought into the rescue centre to survive of parvovirus, Timo the cheetah walks for 3 hours daily with his keeper Rubin. These treks into the forest are an integral part of training for his release back into the wild. The next phase will be his discharge into a 500-acre predator-proof area, which will protect him from leopards. After that, he will be moved into the vast conservancy.

Declining in population due to deforestation and poaching, the greater kudu is a woodland antelope—a pleasure to observe with its impressive spiral horns (males) and striped hide. 

Frida, a released greater Kudu that was found at the entrance to Ol Jogi in 2018, is frequently spotted hanging out with a buffalo, a zebra, and a donkey in various locations. She is free to move about wherever she wishes and sporadically roams off for 3 days at a time but continues to return to the Rescue Centre to sleep with her three unusual friends.

Remaining aligned with our core mission of providing veterinary aid and education to improve the health and wellbeing of animals and their communities worldwide, we’re very excited about our new partnership with Ol Jogi Conservancy. We will share with you next month another inspiring story and our partnership in Kenya within Ol Jogi.