• Helen Avery

Rhino bonds and Africa's Conservation Investments

The rhino impact bond has sparked excitement that financial tools can play a role in helping Africa conserve its wildlife. As the continent’s population level is set to rise quickly, we take a look at the work being done to connect conservation with economic growth.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a four-hour drive north of Nairobi, much of it along well-tarred roads passing through lush green hills before reaching the savannah. Here, tourists in their 4x4s juggle binoculars and cameras as they seek out glimpses of the rare ‘big five’ – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos and rhinos – so-named by the big-game hunters that once sought them out.

Rhinos have been the biggest prize of all to those that have hunted and continue to hunt them. Their horns are more valuable than gold at $60,000 a kilo, sold to buyers or into China and Vietnam for their sup- posed medicinal properties.

Thanks to fossil records, we know that the planet was once teeming with rhinos of many different subspecies – some standing up to five metres tall, some with woolly coats that are thought to have evolved with the Ice Age, some with more than one horn or no horn at all. Yet this 55 million-year history is now perilously close to ending. Fewer than 30,000 rhinos remain.

Workers at former cattle ranch, Ol Pejeta, are working hard to reverse this story. When it became a conservancy in 2006, the rhino population there was just eight. Adding 20 more rhinos from conservancies and national parks elsewhere in Kenya and through breeding, that number is now 131 and includes both black and white rhinos. Coupled with the conservancy’s work with the 52,000 people in the 19 neighbouring communities, this success has made Ol Pejeta a good fit for the world’s first financial tool targeting species extinction – the rhino impact bond.

Continue reading here at Euromoney including interviews with Ol Pejeta, Conservation Capital, Peace Parks, The African Wildlife Foundation, Karingani Reserve and more...

(Photo Karingani Reserve)

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