Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust
The Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust was established in 1995 and is located in the Mathews Range of northern Kenya, one of the last great stretches of pristine African wilderness. Namunyak serves as a critical wildlife refuge for endangered species such as Grevy’s zebra and African wild dog. It is also part of a crucial corridor for the Samburu/Laikipia elephant, linking National Reserves in the south with the Mathews Range and the remote conservancies to the north and east.
During the 1980’s the northern districts of Kenya were at the centre of mass elephant poaching; hundreds of elephant were killed for their ivory, virtually wiping out the population. People soon realised that the wildlife had no future unless local communities participated in its protection, including the land which erosion and over grazing were destroying. To succeed a presence had to be established in the bush to deter poachers and protect the elephant population, and the local communities had to be convinced that the wildlife was not competition for food, instead they were a source of income.
Initially local herdsmen were provided with radios with which to report poaching incidents. As time progressed the community began to understand the benefits of having wildlife on their land, visitors were interested, and with them came a source of income. Correctly managed the Samburu people of Namunyak have learnt that the land can generate a more sustainable income for the community and also protect the elephant herds and their habitat.
Their major source of revenue comes from a lodge, Sarara, nestled into the lower slopes of Wargress Mountain with views of the great amphitheatre of the Mathews Range. The lodge is 100% owned and managed by the Namunyak community.
Through the direction of the Board of Trustees, which is composed of 13 members elected every three years by the local community, the profits are disbursed throughout the community, with 40% retained to support the Trust’s operation.
Game guard operations
Namunyak employs 28 armed rangers equipped with hand held radios and GPS units. Their operations include rapid response for anti-poaching alerts, assisting the communities with problem animals and other incidents of human wildlife conflict, countering cattle rustling and highway banditry, and wildlife monitoring. The game scouts are drawn from the local community and trained by Lewa and KWS.
As part of conservancy management Namunyak operates two vehicles both funded by Tusk – one dedicated to security work and scout support; and the other to conservancy administration and community liaison duties. These vehicles are essential to the smooth operations of the conservancy and to rapid follow up to security and wildlife incidents. Without this and its radio equipment, Namunyak would be hard pushed to operate effectively across such a large region. This holds the risk of the re-emergence of poaching and insecurity. As a result vigilance and management focus is required to maintain and strengthen the security gains made.
Greater Namunyak Area
In 2008 the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust underwent an exciting evolution, which clearly illustrates its conservation impact and value for local communities. Since its inception Namunyak has been rooted in its two constituent group ranches of Sarara and Sabache located in the southern part of the Mathews Range. These two community areas have provided Namunyak with an institutional framework for its core conservation operations and tourism development.
In recent years due to the success of Namunyak in anti-poaching and security the reach of the conservancy’s operations has extended informally to include neighbouring community areas, further north, along the Mathews Range. Namunyak has also shared its annual revenue with these communities in addition to Sarara and Sabache.
This presence and support by Namunyak has now been formalised with overwhelming community consensus officially to expand Namunyak management mandate to a further four community areas – Ngilai West and Central, Ndonyo Wasin and Ngare Narok, over 800,000 acres in total. Tusk is fully supportive of this development which means that Namunyak now surrounds the entire Mathews Range Forest Reserve – a definite plus for effective conservation of this amazing area.
Friends of Namunyak
The Friends of Namunyak’ initiative has been established by Tusk in order to build on Namunyak’s success and to help provide a core and stable source of funding towards the project’s operating costs.
Namunyak has always relied upon the goodwill and generosity of those that care and recognize its unique nature. Tourism revenue will contribute significantly to the budget, but we estimate that over the short to medium term 50% of the increased operating budget for Namunyak and it's greater area will need to be underwritten by donor funds.
Friends of Namunyak will be administered by Tusk Trust in the UK and by Tusk USA in the States. Both organisations are registered charities with contributions attracting the relevant tax relief for donors.
By becoming a Friend of Namunyak, you will not only be contributing to Namunyak’s continuing success, but can also feel a sense of pride in helping to safeguard a part of Africa that all who experience leave deeply touched by its depth and beauty.
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