The Ol Lentille Conservancy, while small in relative terms at 20,000 acres, is a vital keystone in the protection of the Laikipia and greater Ewaso Nyiro ecosystems. Covering an area of 30,000 square kilometres, Laikipia is the second largest wildlife ecosystem in Kenya after Tsavo. Laikipia is the richest ecosystem in Kenya in terms of endangered species, and is the richest ecosystem in Kenya in terms of wildlife diversity. Laikipia is second only to the Maasai Mara in terms of wildlife density, and is the only district in Kenya where overall wildlife numbers are increasing.
For five years with the support and encouragement of The African Wildlife Foundation, the Kijabe community has excluded its own livestock from the area. More recently, with support from Regenesis and The Kijabe Trust, it has been increasingly successful in excluding livestock arriving from neighbouring areas, and in attracting and holding an increasing population of wildlife including a significant number of endangered species.
Vegetation has recovered from the over-grazing of the past and damaging erosion halted.Now, seeing community conservation in action, neighbouring communities are developing their own conservation plans. On our Northern boundary, The Samburu community of Narupa have created a community conservancy which we manage on their behalf. And, to our west, Tiemamut Group Ranch has appointed volunteer Rangers, asked us to train them, and added its 5500 acre conservation area to the Ol Lentille Conservancy.These new projects, while enormously exciting and encouraging, are not without risk.
The core ingredients for successful community conservation are an iron-clad community will, and the capacity to secure conservation areas from livestock incursion. The will comes from sustained leadership and conservation education. Security means the employment of Rangers, their training, and a communications infrastructure. So, conservation is not free, but over the long haul it can be made to pay.