Launch of To The Point Interview Series - Africa Point Blog
Exciting news! Africa Point is launching a weekly interview series featuring the who's who in Africa's travel and conservation scene. We have lined up chats with some of the most interesting representatives from popular tourist destinations and national parks, conservation thought leaders, and
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Launch of To The Point Interview Series


Published 12th November 2014 by Edgar Kimathi
Modified 8th June 2015
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Features, Travel Planning & Tips, To the Point Interview Series, Kenya, Chimpanzees, Going Out, Rhino, Nairobi

Waterhole Serena Sweetwaters, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

 

Exciting news! Africa Point is launching a weekly interview series featuring the who's who in Africa's travel and conservation scene. We have lined up chats with some of the most interesting representatives from popular tourist destinations and national parks, conservation thought leaders, and other leading personalities in the travel industry. 


In the interviews you will learn about a lot of different aspects of travel in Africa - from conservation to little known secrets that could transform your traveling experience! So be sure to check back regularly for our latest interviews or sign up to our newsletter (right there on the right hand side) so you get the latest posts delivered right to your mailbox.

Kicking off the series is no less than Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s Largest Black Rhino Sanctuary, the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees and holds some of the highest predator densities in Kenya.


Richard is no doubt one of the leading figures when it comes to conservation in Kenya and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is testimony to his incredible effort in support of wildlife and environment. So without further ado, enjoy Richard's insights:

 

 

TO THE POINT: Chat with Richard Vigne

 

Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

 

How did you get involved with conservation?

I have always been passionate about conservation. As a kid in the forests around Kericho I spent every waking hour catching butterflies for my collection and adding to my list of bird species sighted. After completing a degree in Zoology at the University of Newcastle in the UK I then worked in a safari company in Uganda for 5 years. This gave me the opportunity to get to know that country and to see species such as gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Thereafter I completed a Masters in Management and was lucky enough to get the job of General Manager on the Ol Pejeta Ranch in 1996 Its potential to become a valuable conservation area in Laikipia was obvious to me and I have spent the last 18 years creating the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, now East Africa’s largest sanctuary for the endangered black rhino

 

What do you love most about your job? 

The variety – running Ol Pejeta is like running a small county. We have to be responsible for generating our own power, supplying our own water, securing our boundaries, operating hotels and camps, managing our wildlife and cattle, growing wheat and investing into the development of the communities who live around us. Its exhausting and sometimes stressful – but never dull!

 

What’s your favorite conservancy/park? 

After Ol Pejeta you mean??!! I like Tsavo – it’s wildness and vastness are amazing. That said some of the Conservancies emerging under the umbrella of the Northern Rangelands Trust in northern Kenya are spectacular areas that offer huge potential for the future of wildlife and tourism in this country

 

What do you think are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed in conservation? 

That is a tough question – but to me proper land use planning will be the key to the future of wildlife in this country. Right now it seems anyone can do anything anywhere in this country and that has resulted in land management and use practices that are often unsustainable and incompatible with conservation. Until we sort this out conservation as a land use opportunity will be fraught with difficulty outside the National Parks. Beyond that we need to properly enforce existing legislation to control poaching, something which I believe is now beginning to happen – good news!

 

What needs to be done to address these issues?

The government needs to work out and properly demarcate those areas of the country which are reserved for wildlife and other forms of compatible use (e.g livestock keeping), and then enforce those rules by not allowing other forms of land use to take place in these areas. Its key to the future of our wildlife asset

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Right now Kenya’s tourism is at a very low ebb as a result of insecurity, travel advisories and - would you believe it – Ebola. All our National Parks and Conservancies depend upon tourism for their income and operations, and the current downturn has compromised these. Consequently I would urge all of your readers to take the time to visit a Conservancy or a National park near them. Your entrance fees pay for the costs of conservation and are sorely needed at this time. Oh, and by the way, Ol Pejeta is only two and a half hours drive from Nairobi on good roads!

 

 

Tell us if you have any thoughts or questions for Richard and we'll make sure to get them to him. For more information on the conservancy visit http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org

 

 


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About the Author:
Edgar Kimathi

Edgar Kimathi

Edgar enjoys bringing the web and people together to build powerful online marketing strategies. He derives particular pleasure in being part of a company that holds conservation very dear. When not website wrangling you might spot him hard at a nature trail.


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