Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy works as a catalyst 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.
As a privately run, non-profit organisation, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has become renowned worldwide for its innovative and highly successful conservation strategies. In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find wilderness and wildlife outside of protected areas, Lewa is ensuring the opposite happens in North Kenya. It has realised the true value of these assets and now works to reverse its decline by supporting the people in whose hands the future of wildlife and its habitat rests.
Established in 1994, the 62,000 acre conservancy is a haven of grasslands, acacia groves and wetland situated on the foothills of Mount Kenya, and is now home to some of the planet’s most endangered species. Through partnerships with communities, Government and the goodwill of many individuals Lewa’s influence now extends well beyond its boundaries to include many pastoral communities and over one million acres under a common philosophy of conservation and wildlife management.
Lewa is home to a wide variety of wildlife with over 70 mammal and 350 bird species. As a result of its successful wildlife management policy Lewa is now able to translocate some species to repopulate other parks and reserves in Kenya.
Black and white rhino
Lewa provides a sanctuary to two endangered species, the black and white rhinoceros, and has built up its population to over 120 animals. In particular Lewa has been instrumental in bringing the black rhino back from the brink of extinction in Kenya. The conservancy is home to 11% of the country’s black rhino and is one of only five private sanctuaries in Kenya where they are found. Lewa’s success can be attributed to its size, vegetation and security practices. Daily monitoring and surveillance of Lewa’s rhino population is vital to ensuring their security. The Lewa security force is made up of 150 highly trained personnel, including armed rangers, rhino surveillance teams, radio operators, tracker dog handlers, a fence maintenance team, night guards, guards managing entrance gates, and aerial surveillance. Rhino monitoring teams patrol the conservancy and monitor the rhino on a daily basis. Most rhino have unique ear-notch patterns which enable researchers and rangers to identify individuals in the field. Information on home-ranges, births, deaths, inter-calving intervals, health, behaviour and ancestry is gathered in order to assess the status of the populations and identify individuals for translocation.
The other critically endangered species found on Lewa is the Grevy's zebra whose range once stretched from Somalia to Kenya. With only 0.5% of the Grevy's zebra range under protection the species has been vulnerable to the effects of overgrazing. This, combined with large scale poaching for the meat and skins, has led to a serious decline in their numbers. Grevy’s zebra are now considered extinct in Somalia, with a small number existing in Ethiopia (less than 150) and the remainder present in North Kenya. Today, this magnificent animal survives in a few protected areas, including Lewa, which is home to 23% of the world’s population - estimated at just 2,000 animals..
Lewa does not view itself as an island. The conservancy works closely with its neighbours to ensure that the conservation of wildlife goes hand in hand with sustainable community development.
As the ever expanding human population comes into conflict with wildlife, Lewa has been at the forefront of helping communities on its boundaries and further afield in northern Kenya to initiate and promote community driven conservation programmes, which allow the people to view wildlife as an asset and not a liability. The solution to living in harmony lies in the sustainable use of natural resources. A growing number of communities around Lewa are adopting this principle and converting large areas of their land away from unviable livestock farming and now recognise that sustainable utilisation of their wildlife and conservation can improve livelihoods and alleviate poverty.
Lewa – through its education programme – support nine primary schools and two secondary schools, which educate over 3,000 children. Through the provision of classrooms, education materials and sports equipment; the implementation of communications equipment; access to transport; feeding programmes; training courses for teachers and bursaries for the brightest children, Lewa is giving the children who live adjacent to Lewa access to the best possible education, whilst at the same time creating an awareness of the importance of conservation and their environment.
The Safaricom Marathon
For the past twelve years Tusk has, in conjunction with Lewa and the Kenyan mobile phone operator, Safaricom, organised the Safaricom Marathon. This now internationally acclaimed and unique fundraising event is run through Lewa and has raised over $3.25 million which has been distributed by Tusk between Lewa and the associated community, education and healthcare projects.
Friends of Lewa
Tusk administers the Friends of Lewa scheme. For more information on how to become a ‘friend’ of this remarkable conservancy please click here to download a Friends of Lewa application form
Tusk Trust has been a major partner to Lewa’s activities since its inception. The first donation was in the form of two White rhino in 1995. Since then Tusk has provided funding for general running costs, including fuel, salaries, road and fence maintenance, uniforms, salaries, housing and a Land Cruiser pick up for use by the anti poaching teams. Tusk also funded the first relocation of wildlife that Lewa carried out, when 15 giraffe were taken to Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust. Since then Tusk has assisted with many further relocations of zebra, waterbuck, rhino, and elephant. In 2008, Tusk helped sponsor the purchase of a new Super Cub aircraft for the conservancy – ideal for aerial surveillance and operating in the bush. As part of the charity’s holistic approach to conservation Tusk works closely with Lewa’s community programmes and has provided valuable funding to install sustainable water systems and to refurbish a number of schools for Lewa’s outlying communities.
I am increasingly aware of the immense amount of support Tusk has given the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy over the years, and thankfully continues to give in so many ways - direct grants towards wildlife conservation and community development, organising the highly successful Safaricom marathon each year, direct support for Lewa's fundraising activities in the UK, help in sourcing PR opportunities, and in promoting Lewa as a catalyst for conservation and all of its direct benefits for communities across the region. Tusk's support is both invaluable and hugely appreciated.