The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fostering Map click
Click on a pin to learn more about the place a particular orphan was
found and the plight of elephants in that area.
Solio Ranch, is a fenced, protected area and has be synonymous with Rhino conservation for over 35 years. The private 17,500-acre Solio Game Reserve, 22km north of Nyeri, has in the past and continues to play a vital role in preserving and breeding Black rhinos in Kenya. It is from the Solio population that rhinos have been reintroduced into other Protected Areas. Solio’s current population of Black rhinos is approximately 64 animals, and they have over 100 White Rhino.
Sandwiched between majestic Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare mountains, the ranch lies within indigenous woodland, huge stands of yellow acacia compliment the rolling plains whilst a marsh bisects the sanctuary.
Solio is an oasis in a densely populated region of the country, and provides a vital refuge for many different species and bird life.
The Nairobi National Park came into being in 1948, mainly due to the efforts of two people, Kenya’s then Chief Game Warden, Capt. Archie Ritchie, O.B.E. M.C. and Colonel Mervyn Cowie, appointed the first Director of Kenya’s fledgling National Parks.
Human expansion has constricted the animals’ once large dispersal area and brought human habitation right up to every boundary; rhinos have been brought in, as have some orphaned hand-reared buffaloes, the African wild dogs are no more and the predator population has been seriously eroded, but the Park remains still a rare jewel in the crown of Kenya’s conservation efforts. No other city in the entire world can boast a natural wilderness within easy reach of its centre, where visitors can spend a magic morning or afternoon viewing a microcosm of the bounty of yore. Nairobi National Park is, indeed, unique – and must be nurtured at all costs, not just for its obvious tourist appeal, and the revenues it brings into the country, but for important therapeutic reasons also. More importantly still, the Park serves the vital role of being the very lungs of Nairobi city, its natural vegetation and remnant forests renewing the oxygen levels and cleansing the air of pollution spewed forth from a sprawling city now harbouring close on 3 million human souls.
The reason for such a variety of animal life in a tiny Park only 44 square miles in extent is, of course, that small as it is, it includes many different habitats, each with its own typical fauna. The Park comprises open plains, broken bush, some real forest, a permanent river with fringe thickets, luggas, long grass, short grass, flat land and foothills, so a multitude of forms can live in close proximity to one another. On the open plains, grasslands alternate with Acacia dominated savannah, whilst the Athi River, cuts deep gorges of considerable depth and varying width as it winds its way through. The slopes of the gorges that are not sheer rock provide dense cover for many shyer creatures and where there is a good depth of soil large wild figs with spreading crowns, attaining a height of 80 – 100 ft. are plentiful. In areas where the water table is closer to the surface, such as at the Hippo Pools, yellow fever trees form beautiful stands, conspicuous with their sulphur yellow trunks and pale foliage. Stunted whistling thorns predominate in the shallower soils of the open windswept plains, providing food for browsing species such as giraffe and rhino and on the black cotton soils, the highly nutritious “oat grass” (Themeda triandra) dominates amongst a wide variety of other grasses and legumes. Dry luggas and riverbeds afford places preferred by lions, and the forest which is confined to more broken country on higher ground, shelters forest species such as bushbuck, suni and monkeys.
The forest is, in fact, the southern fringe of what used to be the extensive Langata Forest and is comprised of Crotons, Muhugus, Cape Chestnuts and other indigenous species, but because the soil in the section that is in the Park is shallow, the tree growth on the whole does not reach the height of the forest proper. Nairobi National Park is a memory that echoes in microcosm the land as it was when it was young and unspoilt one hundred years ago.
The variety of species it shelters is unique indeed for such a small area and in its capacity as the lungs of Nairobi, it is, of course, crucial. Yet the future of the Park today is no less certain than it was in Capt. Ritchie’s time. With human settlement right up to the boundaries and the Park electrically fenced on three sides, but not on the fourth, the Park is now more vulnerable than ever. It will have to be fenced on its fourth boundary before all is lost, and what can naturally live within such constraints will, and what can’t, won’t.
Meru National Park was once a National Reserve established as a wildlife sanctuary by the Meru County Council. (A National Reserve is tribal land set aside as an initiative of the respective community for the preservation of wildlife, but inhabited by humans whose activities (mainly pastoral) remain paramount. A National Park, on the other hand, is an area set aside exclusively for wildlife where the interests of wildlife are paramount and no humans have right of abode, other than those that work there).
Meru National Reserve, an area of 870 sq. kms, ( 215,000 acres or 87,044 hectares) was bequeathed to the Government by the Meru County Council in 1966 and attained full National Park status thereafter through Legal Notice 478 dated 18th December of that year. As a front-line Park to neighbouring Somalia, it has faced near total collapse on several occasions due to immense poaching for both ivory, rhino horn and the bushmeat trade as well as corrupt management. The habitat is scenically stunning, with the densely populated Nyambeni Mountain range as a back-drop where there is sufficient elevation for the cultivation of tea, coffee and cash crops. Mt. Kenya is visible in the far distance, and, like Kora, there are rocky inselbergs, one of which has the famous Elsa’s Kopje Luxury Lodge built amongst its rocks. The Tana river flows along the Park’s Northern boundary, fed from the Ura and numerous other permanent rivers and springs that rise in the Nyambenis and flow through the Park, fringed with lush riverine vegetation , extensive palm groves, and neighbouring swamplands, contrasting to the arid nature of the Commiphora scrubland of the Park itself, which resembles that of the Northern Area of Tsavo East, but which is blessed with open savannah plains as well.
Meru Rhino Sanctuary was first built in the early 2000’s it was just last year in 2017 that the Meru Rhino Sanctuary was expanded, increasing the size from 48 square kilometers to 83.5 square km, extending the electric fence line by a further 25.6km along with developing another two security bases for KWS personnel. The expansion and upgrade of the Meru Rhino Sanctuary and its ongoing fence maintenance was a project funded and undertaken by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with the rhino population within the sanctuary standing at 60 white rhinos and 25 black rhinos. Importantly 20 strategically located wildlife corridors allow for free movement of elephants and all other wildlife, with the exception of rhinos, who cannot pass through the short posts erected between the specially designed fence corridors.