Ol Pejeta unveils virtual tourism on travel curbs


A female Northern White Rhinoceros walks inside its pen at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. FILE PHOTO | REUTERS

Ol Pejeta Conservancy has embraced virtual tourism to attract visitors globally in the wake of partial lockdown and renewed travel restrictions imposed by the US and the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conservancy in Laikipia County bets on virtual classrooms to educate domestic and international tourists about the world’s remaining Northern White Rhinos — Najin and Fatu — which are aged 31 and 20 respectively. Each class will cost $100 (Sh10,700).

The two female Northern White Rhinos have reproductive hitches, prompting scientists to pursue assisted reproduction methods to cushion them from extinction.

“We run a prime time virtual classroom programme where people across the globe can join in an hour every evening to meet the last two Northern White Rhinos in the planet,” said Ol Pejeta Conservancy managing director Richard Vigne.

The facility has lost Sh1 billion ($10 million) in revenue over the year to the virus.


“We aim at monetising that opportunity but the development of technology to raise revenue streams is not something that we could simply turn on just because tourism opportunities have disappeared.

“We can transit towards other forms of making money but that will take a lot of time because what we are facing now is an unprecedented crisis,” he said.

“It takes time for people to understand the technology product and whether there is value for money. You cannot fill a hole of $10 million through technological innovations. Well, we can fill a small part of that hole, maybe, if we get lucky but it’s going to take a lot of time.”