Lifting The Curtain – Kenya

May 31st 2023  |   Unique Experiences, Miscellaneous  |  by   Alice Gully
Lifting The Curtain – Kenya

Kenya is one of our clients’ favourite countries. It not only has great wildlife and incredible scenery, but the camps host people superbly and the guides seem to be able to spot the flick of a leopard’s tail from half a mile away.

Behind the scenes, the properties we partner with in Kenya are doing great work with the local communities and wildlife. These partnerships, often through charitable foundations, not only offer sustainable solutions to land use for rural people but often also improve the quality of wildlife viewing in an area.

We’ve lifted the curtain to show off a few of these partnerships.

Community Ownership in the Mathews Mountains

In the Mathews Mountains wildlife is thriving. Habitat conservation and wildlife restoration have gone hand in hand with much-improved relations with neighbouring tribes. For 20 years the local Samburu community has had a direct interest in tourists visiting through their ownership of Sarara Camp.

The community’s strength of feeling towards their wildlife is indicated by their recently established Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. The Sanctuary takes in orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining Reteti. The elephant orphans are cared for by the local Samburu, and visitors can view the elephants as well as enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the sanctuary.

An elephant calf stretches its trunk over the head of a keeper

A keeper with one of the orphans at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

Rhino Conservation Success in Laikipia

Borana in the remote Laikipia area is one of Africa’s newest rhino conservancies, and one of its most successful. In 2013, black rhinos were reintroduced to Borana Conservancy, the first time rhinos had roamed on its land for more than 50 years.

A large team of rangers protects the rhino and elephant population. The rhino protection team manages and monitors the rhino population and provides veterinary care if a rhino or calf is sick or injured. Borana works very closely with its neighbour, Lewa Conservancy, on anti-poaching issues ensuring the safety of the growing rhino population.

Guests at Borana Lodge can join rangers on morning patrols, learn about the work they do and perhaps help out if needed.

A ranger stands in the foreground with a bloodhound on a lead and harness alongside him. In the background on open grassland are two rhinos

A Borana ranger with his rhino protection dog

“Adopt a Plot” Campaign in the Mara Conservancies

Tourism plays a vital role in generating a steady source of income to support the conservation of wildlife and interests of the Masai who own the land and the disruption to tourism during the pandemic had a devastating effect. Growing concern about the welfare of the Masai communities prompted one of the founders of the Mara North Conservancy to set up the “Adopt a Plot” campaign. This allowed donations to be made to help fund the land leases so that families continued to receive income and the conservancy continued to exist. The fund raised almost $60,000 and ensured the conservancy remained as a sanctuary for wildlife rather than being put to the plough.

Offbeat Mara’s foresight in developing the fund ensured local communities continued to receive income throughout the pandemic and in turn wildlife was protected in this key area.

Two Masai in traditional red robes walk across short grasslands with three wildebeest on the horizon. Both men appear to be carrying bows and a quiver

Masai walk across the plains

Lion Guardians in the Chyulus

In Kenya’s Masai community areas wildlife exists alongside the Masai cattle and goats. This can be an uneasy situation which historically led to reprisal killings of predators when villagers’ animals had been killed. The Big Life Foundation supports a number of programmes to protect villagers and their stock from predators including the ‘Lion Guardians’ who warn herdsmen of lions and other predators in their area and help build predator-proof bomas to keep leopards away from goats.

These interventions have seen revenge lion killings drop from an estimated 20 a year prior to their implementation in 2006, to fewer than one a year in the last sixteen years. Alongside the huge elephants, which have always been a feature of a stay in the Chyulus, guests now enjoy good sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah.

Big Life Foundation is supported by Ol Donyo Lodge owners Great Plains Conservation

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the exclusive stays and trips mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

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