UNESCO has recently designated Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the adjacent Ngare Ndare Forest as an extension of the ecologically important and beautifully preserved Mt. Kenya World Heritage site. The extension lies within the traditional migration route of the local elephant population and serves to protect and enhance not only the ecological and biological processes, but also the cultural and traditional values of one of East Africa’s most impressive landscapes. UNESCO’s decision recognizes Lewa’s and Ngare Ndare’s steadfast commitment to conservation and the creation of what is widely considered to be Africa’s leading model for wildlife conservation and low-impact tourism.
Once a private cattle ranch, the Craig family set aside an initial 5,000 acres to protect and breed rhinos which rapidly grew – over a decade – to encompass the whole ranch in a vast, 61,000-acre sanctuary dedicated to preserving some of Kenya’s most endangered species. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy now supports over 440 bird species and more than 70 different mammals – including over 10% of Kenya’s black and 15% of Kenya’s white rhino population and the world’s largest population of the critically endangered Grevy’s zebra.With corridors open to the north, wildlife can move freely in and out of this protected area and the greater Laikipia ecosystem.
Lewa Safari Camp lies at the heart of this prolific wildlife conservancy: a unique retreat offering outstanding game viewing and views of Mt. Kenya from its World Heritage Site surrounds. Awarded ‘Silver Level’ by Ecotourism Kenya and winner of The Good Safari Guide’s ‘Best Community Safari Property in Africa’ in 2011, the camp unites luxurious tented accommodation with an impressive array of activities.
As part of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s rhino conservation mission, the team also cares for three young orphan black rhinos. The oldest is Nicky, born blind in August 2012, who was then joined by Hope, an orphan from Ol Pejeta and – most recently – a very young rhino born earlier this month that was sadly abandoned by his mother. Guests at Lewa Safari Camp are welcome to visit these rhinos during their stay.
Commenting on the expansion of World Heritage Site, Mike Watson, CEO of Lewa Conservancy says:
“I wish to congratulate all Lewa staff for enabling the Conservancy to achieve this extraordinary position in the global conservation world. It is truly a testament to all who have worked on Lewa over the years and built it into what it is today. Everyone at Lewa should take great pride in this designation and recognise that this cements the conservancy in the position it so rightly deserves as a global model for protected area management and as a catalyst for conservation.”Photos & story courtesy Cheli & Peacock