Who They Are
Lewa Wilderness is situated within one of Kenya’s major private conservation successes, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (previously known as Lewa Downs), at the foot of Mt. Kenya. Lewa Wilderness is the original family home of the Craigs, who came from England and settled here in 1924 to raise cattle, and is still home to hosts Will and Emma Craig. There are 9 wonderful en-suite cottages, each with a sitting room area with bar and open log fireplace. On offer is a wide range of activities, including game drives, walks, horse and camel riding, scenic flights and bush camping.
What They Are Doing
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has become a major conservation beacon in Africa, with tourism at the very heart of wilderness and community survival. In addition to many research projects, the conservancy formed the Anna Merz Rhino Sanctuary, which became very successful with both black and white rhino breeding, as well as a grevy’s zebra breeding program, with one-fifth of the world’s grevy’s zebra now resident at Lewa.
Lewa Wilderness only recruits from local communities and themanagement team is Kenyan. Lewa is one of the biggest employers in the Eastern Province, and the staff undergo annual training in job-specific fields, including medicine and bush craft. In addition to the conservancy’s 200 full-time staff and up to 100 part-time staff, an additional 150 people are employed in tourism enterprises, furniture- and carpet-making workshops, and farms within Lewa’s boundaries. The conservancy also provides financial and managerial assistance to schools, clinics, and water projects along its boundaries and beyond, into the remote northern districts.
There are five target primary schools close to Lewa’s boundary. One – the Lewa School – was built by the conservancy, which continues to provide educational materials and other support. Four other schools receive material support and participate in the conservancy bursary program, whereby the best-performing children from each of the schools is supported through secondary school.
The conservancy has built and maintains a clinic, which provides medical care to its employees for free, and to its neighbors at cost. It also supports a variety of local self-help groups, including farm development groups and a women’s group initiative, for which it helps raise funds for microfinancing. It has also built a meeting hall. More than 200 women benefit from this program, which was started in 2003.
The Safaricom Lewa Marathon, which began in 2000, aims to raise funds for conservation and community projects around the Samburu, Isiolo, Laikipia, and Meru areas. The marathon has attracted more than 750 runners from all over the world to take part in the full and half marathons, with an additional 100 children competing in the five-kilometer fun run. Over one million dollars has been raised through the runs and various fund-raising events. This money is distributed to a range of projects in northern Kenya, including conservation, education, healthcare, and community development.
In Their Own Words
“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.”