• Kenya: Conservation of elephants and other wildlife at Kenya's largest private reserve

  • Conservation of elephants and other wildlife at Laikipia Nature Conservancy

    Kenya: wildlife conservation at Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Ol Ari Nyiro

  • Kenya: wildlife conservation at Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Ol Ari Nyiro

  • Kenya: wildlife conservation at Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Ol Ari Nyiro

  • Kenya: wildlife conservation at Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Ol Ari Nyiro

  • Kenya: wildlife conservation at Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Ol Ari Nyiro

In Brief

Location:

Ol Ari Nyiro, Laikipia County, Kenya

Goal:

To enhance key conservation activities at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy by improving security to prevent poaching and illegal grazing.

Conservation Value:

The 365-square-kilometer Laikipia Nature Conservancy (aka Ol Ari Nyiro) on the edge of the Great Rift Valley provides an important sanctuary for wildlife of all kinds.  It is a favoured breeding ground for elephants, who migrate from other regions of the country to give birth.

Located on the Eastern wall of the Rift Valley on the Laikipia Plateau, the Conservancy is the most important water catchment area for two major lakes, Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo.  It is part of the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot and harbours an invaluable remnant of the diverse flora and fauna that once covered vast areas of the Laikipia Plateau and the eastern Rift Valley escarpment.

The diverse topography, ranging in elevation from 1260 to 2400 m, supports varied vegetation from dry marginal forests to semi-arid bushland. The reserve is home to the critically endangered wild dog (Lycaon pictus), cheetah, reticulated giraffe, greater kudu, African elephant, a large population of lions, 14 amphibian species, 55 reptiles, 477 birds, more than 800 vascular plants and 755 macro-invertebrates.  Of particular note are two endemic species - a plant (Aloe francombei) and an invertebrate (Aslauga gallmannae) and one frog that is new to science (Tomopterna gallmanni).  There is a large remote part of the Conservancy that has not been studied yet, so the species list is expected to increase.  The Conservancy offers important migration and wintering habitat to various species and has been designated both an Important Bird Area and a Key Biodiversity Area. 

Threats:

To improve conservation outcomes, as well as protect neighboring small holder farms from elephants, a fence, partially paid for by Laikipia County, runs along the conservancy's southern and eastern borders.  In addition, a number of guard posts have been set up to enable the rangers to keep watch over the boundary.  However, the northern boundary is still unfenced, and this is where illegal grazers and poachers regularly pass into the conservancy, impacting wildlife and preventing safe passage of wildlife to a neighboring conservancy.  A grazing management plan has been negotiated with neighboring Pokot communities along this border.  Once the border is secure, it can be implemented to benefit the conservancy's neighbors in times of drought and to keep wildlife in the conservancy safe.

Actions & Results:

1. Recruiting and training rangers and equipping ranger bases along the border of the conservancy has improved security dramatically. With increased protection, populations of key species, including elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo, are rebounding.  

2. In 2020 a new program deployed a SMART tool for the rangers. This Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool uses smartphones to record ranger patrols, wildlife movements and other activities in real time.

3. With the assistance of the National Drought Management Authority, the Conservancy has negotiated grazing terms with the Pokot, but the northern border needs to be fenced to put it in action. This fencing is underway and when it is completed a system of controlled grazing in the Conservancy during drought conditions can be implemented.

4. An elephant and wildlife corridor between the Conservancy and its closest neighbouring conservancy is currently completely unprotected and in the past has been an area where elephants are targeted by poachers.  When the northern fence is complete (it already includes an elephant crossing area), the elephants will be able to traverse this route in safety, assisted and watched by trained Pokot guardians. This is a key part of the strategy to ensure connectivity with the greater Laikipia ecosystem and will need to be prioritized over the next two years. 

Project Field Partner:

The Gallmann Memorial Foundation

Cost:

2021 budget (ICFC portion):  US$168,170
Cumulative cost to ICFC (2017-2020):  CA$481,730

Size of Area Involved:

36,500 hectares (365 km2

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Gallery

Click to enlarge an image

Caracal
Hundreds of elephants take refuge in the reserve
Lion population has rebounded with improved security
Author Kuki Gallmann at the Laikipia Highland Games
Tranquil night scene at one of the conservancy's dams
The border of the reserve shows a stark contrast with neighboring lands
The professional team of rangers has been instrumental in reducing poaching and illegal grazing
Kuki and her daughter Sveva with a neighboring tribal elder

In More Depth...

Kuki Gallmann and the creastion of the reserve

Below:  Kuki Gallmann at Laikipia Highland Games, 2018. Italian born Kuki Gallmann has dedicated her life to transforming  Ol Ari Nyiro from a degraded cattle ranch to its natural state after the tragic deaths of her husband and young son.  It is now Kenya’s largest private reserve and an important sanctuary for wildlife.  Her memoir I Dreamed of Africa brought her international recognition and has given her a platform to speak against elephant poaching and in support of conserving natural ecosystems.

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