The call of the Kenya Wildlife Service reached us at 6.30 a.m. – three Hartebeest, commonly also known by their melodic Swahili name Kongoni, will be arriving at Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy within the hour. These are no ordinary Hartebeest, however. They are Lelwel or more commonly known as Mount Kenya Hartebeest, a subspecies quite rare these days.
The Hartebeest is often referred to as the clown of the plains. We like to think the Mount Kenya Hartebeest are much prettier, both in their more russet colour and their longer horns placed close together giving the animal a fashionable slender appearance.
One month of careful preparation for this special moment is coming to an end as the safari-green truck is winding its way across the grassy plains of our Conservancy. Three of these rare creatures already live at the Conservancy. They were rescued in unrelated incidences some time ago.
Here on the slopes of mighty Mount Kenya, these six beautiful creatures unite for the first time., one step closer to the goal of breeding them to prevent extinction. We mark the occasion with a new story for you, one that began at a ranch not far from here.
Early in 2008, the bush drums could be heard loud and clear: “Solio”, a 60,000-acre cattle and wildlife ranch in Kenya’s Rift Valley, allocated 15,000 acres of its land to the government to help them with re-settlement of refugees and other landless people.
The news was significant. Suddenly, the refuge for seven of Kenya’s most popular species of wildlife had become a potential target for poaching. The task at hand was enormous – nearly 3,000 animals urgently needed relocating to national parks and/or private land across Kenya.
Amongst those, and particularly endangered, were a number of Lelwel Hartebeest. Three of these long-legged antelopes easily recognisable by their unique narrow head have now found a safe haven at Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy to join 3 others already in residence there.
Their relocation to our Conservancy recognises our continuous commitment to conserving Kenya’s precious wildlife and gives our resident Hartebeest ladies the chance to produce much longed for offspring. Watch this space for our first baby news!!
In the meantime, why not become a fan of our six original Kongoni? How? Find out here