Set amidst stunning savannah in the wilds of northern Kenya, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is East Africa's pioneer conservation success story.
Recently featured in the Robb Report, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was created in 1995 and works as a catalyst and model for the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. It does this through the protection and management of species, the initiation and support of community conservation and development programmes, and the education of neighbouring areas in the value of wildlife.
The result, from a wildlife and conservation perspective, is a huge success!
Lewa has had zero poaching for five years now – fabulous! The conservation initiatives have also resulted in significant births of wildlife - each year, about 12 lion cubs are born along with 60-70 of the endangered Grévy’s zebra foals and around 14 rhino.
The area has become home to the less common Rothschild giraffe and has a healthy population of buffalo which has increased around 30% year on year. They regularly collar hyena and lion and we have arranged for our clients to be part of official lion collarings as part of their conservation focused safari.
The rhino is one of Africa’s most threatened animals, despite efforts at both national and international levels to stop poaching and end the illegal rhino horn trade. The black rhino, Kenya’s native species, is critically endangered, with approximately 5,500 individuals left on the continent. Most of this population, about 98%, lives in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Rhino conservation (which includes both the black rhino and the less endangered white rhino) remains high on Kenya’s, as well as Lewa and Borana’s, conservation priorities.
Lewa’s expertise helps support Sera, East Africa’s first community owned rhino sanctuary and heralds the re-emergence of the rhino in the northern Kenya landscape, championed by community ownership.
These successes were mirrored at a national level. In Kenya, rhino poaching has dropped from 59 animals at the height of poaching in 2013 to 10 animals in 2016.
Lewa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, serves as a safe refuge for rhino, elephant, Grevy’s zebra and other iconic species in Kenya. 1200 elephant use the underpass crossings – a passageway that links the Mount Kenya ecosystem, Lewa, and Ngare Ndare with the northern Kenya’s plains.
The underpass connects previously isolated elephant populations while mitigating human elephant conflict.
What makes Lewa unique is their long-term commitment to partnering with their neighbours to care for the delicate ecosystem on which we all depend.
To local people, Lewa represents much more than the wildlife it protects. Lewa provides neighbouring pastoral communities an opportunity to maintain their traditional way of life in a modern and sustainable context through progressive and innovative livelihood initiatives.
Lewa offers families living near its boundaries improved economic opportunities with their comprehensive education and women’s microcredit programmes, community managed water projects, and access to health care within four health clinics.
Lewa benefits thousands of children in local schools by opening doors to a future with more possibilities than those available to their parents and grandparents.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), established in 2004, aims to develop resilient community conservancies that can improve people’s lives, secure peace, and conserve natural resources. With Lewa as a key partner, the NRT today supports 33 community conservancies.
In 2013, Lewa removed the fence separating their conservancy from that of their western neighbour, Borana Conservancy. This unprecedented move between two privately-owned and run properties has created a thriving, 93,000 acre ecosystem dedicated to the protection and care of both endangered and abundant species.
Lewa and Borana also house nine tourism properties that offer an unparalleled, intimate, conservation-focused safari experience. In fact, almost all guests see the big five (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard) in the first couple of days.
Images provided courtesy of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Images of Lewa Wilderness copyright to Stevie Mann.