Last Thursday (15 March), Ol Pejeta CEO Richard Vigne joined TV vet Steve Leonard,Animals Saving Animals’ Daryll Pleasants (plus special canine guests) and Helping Rhinos CEO Simon Jones in London for Helping Rhinos’ spring talk; Shades of Grey.
Helping Rhinos CEO Simon Jones introduced the evening and provided an update on the work of Helping Rhinos and how their supporters around the world are making a difference in protecting the species.
Among the guests were young Cambridge conservation campaigner Frankie Benstead who launched his own initiative, RhinosUp, to help raise awareness of the plight of the rhino population in Africa.
Speaking during the event at Church House in Westminster, the Ol Pejeta CEO shared the successes and challenges of running East Africa’s most successful black rhino breeding programme and provided an update on the northern white rhinos.
“Our approach to conservation makes us politically robust,”Mr Vigne told the audience, adding: “We are the largest tax payer in Laikipia. And we don’t rely on external subsidy.”
“What is happening to the northern white rhinos is symptomatic of what is happening to thousands of species around the world. And if we can’t stop or reverse the extinction of the northern white rhinos, we are in real trouble.
“We need to think about new models for conservation that cater for the needs of humans while still providing space for wildlife and ecological integrity,” he went on to explain
Attendees also learnt more about the work of the Anti-Poaching Dog Unit in rhino conservation. Animals Saving Animals Founder Daryll Pleasants shared his unique tales of training dogs to join the front line anti-poaching teams in locations around the world, including Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
The evening also included a charity auction with Helping Rhinos Patron and award winning artist Karen Laurence-Rowe donating her latest stunning painting titled The Accuser. The painting, which she described as “an emotional response to the needless deaths of an ancient and magnificent species dangerously close to extinction”, raised an incredible £18,000.
Tweeting about the sum raised, the artist said she was “euphoric for myself and the rhinos,” adding that she was “over the Moon”.
Other lots included an Ol Pejeta – Masai Mara Safari courtesy of Asilia Africa, a Bush Home Safari at Ol Pejeta’s Pelican House, the opportunity to name a black rhino calf, a graphite pencil sketch of Sudan by Rainee Beaton and a copy of With Honourable Intent: The Story of Flauna and Flora International signed by Sir David Attenborough.