Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya

Wildlife Conservancies in Kenya

Wildlife Conservancies in Kenya

Narok County

41. Mara Triangle

The 510 km2 Mara Triangle, the section of Masai Mara Ecosystem between the Siria Escarpment in the west and Mara River in the east (that also separates it from Masai Mara National Reserve) is managed as a non-profit organisation, The Mara Conservancy, on behalf of the Trans-Mara County Council. In 1994 management of the Maasai Mara National Reserve was divided into the eastern side, managed by the Narok County Council, and the northwestern sector (the Mara Triangle), then managed by the Trans Mara County Council. It represents about a third of the entire Mara Reserve. In the year 2000 the Mara Triangle was reestablished as the Mara Conservancy. “Mara Serena and Little Governors’ Camp are the only two lodges set up within the Mara Triangle. Kichwa Tembo, Mpata Club, Olonana, Mara Siria and Kilima Camp are set on the periphery but use the Triangle” – Magical Kenya. The Mara Triangle is serviced by two all-weather airstrips – Mara Serena and Kichwa Tembo. The main road access into the less-travelled Mara Triangle is through Narok Town and the Sekenani Gate.

42. Mara North Conservancy

The 320 kms Mara North Conservancy originally dubbed as the ‘Koiyaki Lemek Conservation Area’ occupies the north-western section of the Mara Ecosystem and borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve to the south. Much the same as the Mara Triangle, this was founded as a not-for-profit organization in January of 2009 to bring together 13 tourism partner members (7 camps, 3 lodges and 3 riding outfits) and over 800 Maasai landowners. Both these areas are marked by sweeps of the archetypal golden savanna split into ridges by bushland, which host a high density of wildlife. Unique to Mara North Conservancy is its strong resolve in low bed density tourism, and it aspires to an ideal minimum ratio of 142-hectares per bed, both to guarantee an exclusive safari experience and to minimize the impact on the environment. The member camps are Alex Walker’s Serian Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Neptune Mara, Rianta Luxury Camp, Karen Blixen Camp, Kicheche Mara Camp, Mara Bush Houses | Asilia Africa Mara Plains Camp, Offbeat Mara Camp, Offbeat Riding Safaris, Richard’s River Camp, Royal Mara Safari Lodge, Safaris Unlimited, and the Saruni Mara Lodge.

43. Oloisukut Conservancy

Situated between Mara North and Lemek Conservancies in the western quarter of the Mara Ecosystem, the 202 km2 Oloisukut Conservancy established in 2011 brings together 109 Maasai landowners and community members. It has three member lodges – Elojata Camp, Balloon Camp and Mara Timbo. It is notable as the only community conservancy in the Transmara Conservation Area and has diverse wildlife habitats like forests, grasslands, woodlands, and riparian haunt.

44. Lemek Conservancy

Originally part of the Koiyaki Lemek Conservation Area, this was reestablished in January 2009 as the Lemek Conservancy, under a board of elected members responsible for ensuring efficient and transparent revenue collection and equal distribution to its members. The 73 km2 Conservancy, a short distance north of Masai Mara National Reserve and Mara North, is jointly owned by 450 Maasai landowners. “Lemek Conservancy is one of the high wildlife density areas in the Great Plains offering pleasant scenery and the best wildlife viewing areas of the Maasai Mara Ecosystem”. It has five member camps – Saruni Wild Camp, Mara River Lodge, Naserian Mara Camp, Losokwan Camp, and Mara Concord Lodge.

45. Olare Motorogi Conservancy

Formerly dubbed as the Olare Orok Conservancy, the 129 km2 Olare Motorogi Conservancy, bringing together 277 Maasai landowners, has hitherto become a model for the Mara Conservancies and a blue-print for the sustainability of the Maasai Mara Ecosystem since its establishment in 2009. “After many meetings with the local Maasai it was agreed that a new community conservation vision should be tried to address sustainability of their land and to add value in both income and conserving vegetation, so that a combination of wildlife tourism and sustainable rotational grazing could create a win-win situation for both the Maasai landowners and the wildlife of the Maasai Mara Ecosystem”, The Great Plains Conservation. Further, tourism within Olare Motorogi Conservancy was limited to a maximum of 6 member camps – Kicheche Bush Camp, Mara Plains Camp, Mahali Mzuri, Porini Lion Camp, Nomadic Encounters Topi House and Olare Mara Kempinski, all with a total of 94 beds, to aggrandize the wilderness experience and reduce the environmental impact. Unique to this Conservancy is that game safaris are limited to a maximum of 4 vehicles at any given moment.

46. Ol Choro Oiroua Conservancy

Situated between Lemek and Enonkishu Conservancies in the northerly limits of the Masai Mara Ecosystem, the 64 km2 Ol Choro Oiroua Conservancy which was established in 1992 has 4 member camps – the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Richard’s Forest Camp, Ngerende Island Lodge and Enkerende Tented Camp. It brings together 86 Maasai landowners and community members, creating 150 jobs in hotel and conservancy management and 17 ranger and scout jobs. Seiya Ltd is contracted by Fairmont Mara Safari Club to manage the conservancy and ensure the area’s holistic land management and community development. The revenue collected here is distributed to the 86 Maasai landowners on a per acre basis. Unique to this Conservancy is that it is flanked by the Mara River on its entire western boundary. Ol Choro Conservancy is served by Ngerende Airstrip.

47. Enonkishu Conservancy

Established in 2011, the 24 km2 Enonkishu Conservancy, bringing together 46 landowners and community members, with 2 lodges and 1 camp, is the north most conservancy in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem; with Lemek Conservancy to its south. “Travellers to the Conservancy can stay at the Mara Training Centre Banda’s, House in the Wild – a boutique lodge on the Mara River, or in private home within the Naretoi Estate” – Enonkishu. One of the utmost highlights at Enonkishu Conservancy is a walking safari to the top of Kileleoni Hill, which serves as useful observation point, and to Ol Chorro and Lemek Conservancies. To get there “from Narok, take the tarmac road towards Sotik for about 55 kms, past two turnoffs to Masai Mara.  At about 53 kms you will see a green fuel levy sign on your left. You want to take the next dirt road on the left, at the Mulot Junction. There will be signs to the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Follow these”.

48. Pardamat Conservancy

Currently in formation, between the Naibosho and Enonkishu Conservancies, in the far northeast area of the Masai Mara Ecosystem, the 260 km2 Pardamat Conservancy brings together 850 Maasai landowners and community members. Pardamat Conservancy, which also neighbours Mara North and Olare Motorogi Conservancies, was previously a particularly vulnerable region with some of the highest incidences of elephant poaching in Kenya. Alarmed at the sharp spike in elephant deaths in 2010, Pardamat Conservancy, in partnership with the Mara Elephant Project, was created to conserve the arc and provide a lasting solution.

49. Naibosho Conservancy

Established 2010 and covering 206 km2, bringing together 554 landowners and community members, Naibosho Conservancy has 6 member camps – Naibosho Camp, Ol Seki Hemingways Mara Camp, Kicheche Valley Camp, Eagles View Base Lodge, Wilderness Camp, and Encounter-Mara Camp – offering 142 jobs in hotel and conservancy management, and 33 ranger jobs. It is found between Pardamat Conservancy and the Siana Group Ranch, on the eastern side of the Masai Mara Ecosystem. Ol Kinyei Conservancy forms an offshoot on its eastern side. Naibosho is located just 11 kms north of the Masai Mara National Reserve.

50. Ol Kinyei Conservancy

Situated between Naibosho Conservancy and the Siana Group Ranch along the outer eastern edge of the Mara Ecosystem, the 74 km2 Ol Kinyei Conservancy, established in 2005, brings together 177 landowners and community members. Ol Kinyei is home to two small safari camps, the Porini Mara Camp and Porini Cheetah Camp, each with a maximum capacity of 12 guests. Contiguous with the Naibosho Conservancy, along its western frontier, Ol Kinyei has all-round splendid views of the magnificent Loita Hills and the eye-catching Loita Plains.

51. Ol Derikesi Conservancy

Located at the southeast end of the Mara Ecosystem and bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve, the 30 km2 Ol Derikesi Conservancy established in 2001 brings together 500 landowners. It is best known for its only camp, the award-winning (Africa’s leading luxury private villa 2016, WTA) Cottar’s 1920’s Camp, revered as one of the most enliven safari destination in Kenya. It caters luxuriously for the middle-upper budget to provide an elegant and indelible wilderness experience. It is run by the Cottar’s Family who are one of the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa – “In 1919, together with his sons, Mike, Bud and Ted, Charles established ‘Cottar’s Safari Service’, one of the very first registered safari companies offering superior big game hunting and film safaris outfitting throughout Africa, India and Indochina” – Cottar’s Camp.

Map of the Masai Mara Ecosystem. Photo Courtesy of The Maa Trust
Map of the Masai Mara Ecosystem. Map Courtesy of The Maa Trust

Samburu County

52. Kalama Conservancy

Formerly known as Gir-Gir Group Ranch and now run by Northern Rangelands Trust on behalf of the local communities, the eye-catchings 385 km2 Kalama Conservancy also contains a fine concentration of game and is contiguous with Samburu National Reserve along the northern boundary. Kalama Conservancy forms part of the open-borders wildlife migration corridor that links Nakuprat Gotu and Sera Conservancies with Samburu National Reserve.  Here, from the comfort of the luxurious yet kooky and locally-themed Saruni Samburu Lodge, opened in 2009, holiday-makers to Kalama can enjoy the magnificent scenery with fetching views of the fairyland forest of Mathews Range.  Also contained at the Conservancy is their community-run Samburu Bead-Works Project where one gets to mingle with the jovial Samburu Community who are in turn happy to give visitors as warm a welcome as can be had in any region of Kenya. Key wildlife species at Kalama Conservancy include elephants, Reticulated giraffes, Beisa oryx, lions, Grevy’s zebras, wild dogs, gerenuk, lesser and greater kudus, leopard, cheetah among others and a diversity of bird species. Those arriving by air land at one of two nearby airstrip or at the helipad at Saruni Lodge. By road, the entry into Kalama Conservancy is 22 kms northeast of Archer’s Post, via A2.

53. Westgate Conservancy

Wedged between Namunyak Conservancy (north), Kalama Conservancy (east) and Samburu National Reserve (south), this is made up of 367 km2 rangleland with a core conservation area of 9 km2 and a buffer zone of 12 km2 that was formerly the community-owned Ngutuk-Ongiron Group Ranch. Almost self-same with the surrounding conservancies, the landscape is that of the thorny acacia scrubland dotted with a great many impressive rocky outcrops. The main tree species include various Acacia and Commiphora: Acacia Species – Lchurai, Ltepes, Ildepe, Lderkesi, Sesiai; and Commiphora species including – Siokotei, Lcheningiro and Samanderi. An archetypal scenery of Northern Kenya.  Unique to Westgate Conservancy is that is hosts upwards of 500 Grevy’s Zebra, which are endemic to Northern Kenya. Other Key wildlife species include Reticulated giraffes, lions, impala, wild dogs, elephants, Grant’s gazelles, leopards, cheetah, Lesser and Greater kudu, and warthogs among others. Likewise, Westgate is one of the inspirational success story in communal integration of wildlife-land management. The only accommodation at Westgate Conservancy is the 18-bed luxury Saasab Tented Camp which is nestled on the banks of River Ewaso Nyiro (the main water source within the conservancy) and which looks out to Laikipia Plateau and Mount Kenya National Park. The main gate into Westgate is found about 70 kms from Archer’s Post. You travel north via A2 then west via the C79 Archer’s Post-Baragoi Road; that forms its northern boundary with Namunyak.

54. Meibei Conservancy

Meibei Conservancy famous for its abundant wildlife and incredible landscape remains largely an undeveloped wilderness with decisive potential for tourism; which will, before long, become the priority for the local community working in conjunction with Northern Rangelands Trust who are implementing a grazing management program aiming to holistically involve land-use planning and new methods of grazing in the 116 km2 Meibei Conservancy. Meibei Conservancy is comprised of Ngaroni, Lpus and Barsalinga communally-owned group ranches. Found around the foothills of Matthew Range it boasts of an especial landscape.

55. Namunyak Conservancy

The intrepid who decides to travel up into Northern Kenya – it is 223 kms from Archer’s Post to Marsabit – now travels on tarmac all the way through some of Kenya’s most beautiful scenery. Also unique to the stretch of road from Archer’s Post to Merille, 104 kms, is that it cuts through two protected areas: Namunyak Conservancy (west) and Sera Conservancy (east); redolent of the surpassing 60 kms stretch of road along the A104 between Mtito Andei and Manyani that cuts through Tsavo East National Park. Founded in 1996, the 3,440 km2 Namunyak Conservancy is comprised of six Samburu Group Ranches that joined hands to better manage land and provide a safe range for wildlife to thrive. Namunyak, meaning ‘blessed’ in Samburu, is notable as the first community conservancy established in Northern Kenya and which has grown into a treasure trove for safari enthusiasts who can explore its rare and uncatalogued floral diversity and the outstanding wildlife displays. Likewise, Namunyak serves as a vital wildlife refuge for varied species and is home to plentiful populations of giraffe, gerenuk antelope, leopard, African wild dogs, impala, lion, greater kudu and elephant. Equally stirring are the landmarks and formations: Mount Ololokwe, Mathews Mountain Range and Kitich Forest. It is also home to Sarara Camp and Kitich Camp. Namunyak Trust HQ is about 80 kms northwest of Archer’s Post, via A2.

56. Sera Conservancy

More proper Sera Wildlife Trust, the 3,450 km2 Sera Conservancy arrays the largest widlife conservation area in Northern Kenya. Its western border runs astride the A2 Isiolo-Archer’s Post-Merille Road for 104 kms from Archer’s Post until Merille Town; extending about 30 kms at its widest easterly towards Merti and Barata. It was established in 2001 under Northern Rangelands Trust with the aim of bringing together three historically rival ethnic groups and to foster conservation and sustainable use of resources in their traditional lands. Unique to Sera Conservancy is that it is the only place in Eastern Africa where visitors can actively track the black rhino on foot, and is the only sanctuary in Eastern Africa to operate a sanctuary principally dedicated to the vital conservation of the endangered black rhinos. Despite its size, Sera Conservancy has real beauty about it, with plenty of mind-blowing landforms. The landscape is typified by a mix of bush and grassland with a few forest patches teeming with respectable wildlife. It is also well watered. Some of its perennial streams including Kisima Hamsini, Lenkolii, Lerigrig, Lontopi and Lchoro losowan. Other water sources include boreholes, hand pumps and shallow wells at Kapai, Chapulo, Lesura, Losesia, Laresoro, Lbaa Lolparuai, Sereolipi lugga, Kauro, Naitolai, Lenkaya, Lantana and Turgung. In recent times, the discovery of a ‘Rock Gong’ and ‘Rock Painting’ at Kisima Hamsini, mused to be a few thousand years old, highlighted its historic importance. Its HQs office is located about 47 north of Archer’s Post.

Uasin Gishu County

57. Chebororwa Conservancy

The planned 5 km2 Chebororwa Conservancy is set at the extreme northeast corner of Uasin Gishu County abutting with Chebororwa Agricultural Training Centre and along the border with Elgeyo Marakwet County. It was communally earmarked years back to preserve the assorted wildlife found in the area and the current upgrade is expected to boost local tourism and conservation. From its higher vantage and atop the uplands found within Chebororwa are spectacular views of the seemingly flat Uasin Gishu Plateau juxtaposed with views of the singular Sergoit Hill and splendorous Cherangani Hills. Plans are underway to upright a perimeter fence and relocate more wildlife to the conservancy.  At the moment, feasibility study to assess its shortcomings, as well as, its strength are being carried out by experts.  The aims of Chebororwa Conservancy are to grow agro-tourism, which is a potential tourism niche in Uasin Gishu County, and offer adventure-makers access to its outstanding panoramas, its game viewing, and its cultural passages. It is located 56 kms northeast of Eldoret Town via C50 Eldoret-Cherangani-Kabenes Road through Moiben; close to Chebororwa ATC.

Conservancies in Kenya

Devoted though we must be to the conservation cause, I do not believe that any of us should give it all of our time or effort or heart. Give what you can, but do not burn yourselves out — or break your hearts. Let us save at least half of our lives for the enjoyment of this wonderful world which still exists. Leave your dens, abandon your cars and walk out into the great mountains, the deserts, the forests, the seashores. Those treasures still belong to all of us. Enjoy them to the full, stretch your legs, expand your lungs, enliven your hearts; and we’ll outlive the greedy swine who want to destroy it in the name of what they call “growth”.