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Saruni Basecamp World Wildlife Day elephant
Picture by John Broderick

In the heart of Kenya’s rolling landscapes, a tale of innovation and resilience unfolds. It’s a story born from the urgent need to protect wildlife and their natural habitat against the encroaching threats of human progress. As population numbers soar and forests fall to resource depletion, the delicate balance of habitats is disrupted, pushing wildlife populations towards the brink of decline.

Amidst this backdrop of environmental challenges, Kenya emerged as a pioneer, offering a beacon of hope through its ground-breaking conservancy model. Back in 1997, the Kenya Wildlife Service launched the visionary “Parks Beyond Parks” campaign, igniting a movement that would change the conservation landscape forever.

The brilliance of this concept lies in its simplicity: communities deeply rooted in the land, with generations of coexistence with wildlife, choose to set aside portions of their ancestral territories for conservation purposes. In doing so, they not only safeguard the rich biodiversity of their homelands but also create avenues for sustainable tourism, benefitting both local residents and global visitors alike.

Picture vast stretches of untouched wilderness, where lions roam freely and elephants walk on ancient migratory routes. These are the conservancies, managed collaboratively by local communities and tourism partners, where the needs of wildlife, people, and the environment intersect harmoniously.

At the forefront of this movement, Saruni Basecamp stands as a beacon of conservation and community empowerment, anchoring its roots in six extraordinary conservancies across the country. Each conservancy tells its own story of significance.

In the sprawling expanse of Mara North, life thrives year-round across 28,000 hectares, creating a vital sanctuary within the Mara ecosystem. Nearby, Mara Naboisho stands as a beacon of conservation excellence, where over 500 families benefit from the harmonious blend of tourism and community livelihoods.

Adjacent lies Pardamat Conservancy, a unique triple-use haven where landowners dedicate their land to conservation while continuing to live and work within its bounds. This conservancy not only supports local communities but also serves as a crucial wildlife corridor in the Masai Mara.

In the enchanting embrace of Lemek Conservancy, Saruni Basecamp becomes its steward, preserving its delicate beauty amidst its diverse charm. Despite its smaller size, Lemek is also one of the most beautiful and diverse of the region.

Venturing into Samburu’s rugged terrain, Saruni Basecamp’s presence extends to Kalama and Sera Conservancies. Kalama’s vast 49,000 hectares resonate with the echoes of elephants and other majestic creatures, forming an essential corridor for wildlife migration.

And then there’s Sera, making history as Africa’s pioneer in community conservation with its groundbreaking black rhino sanctuary. Here, amidst the arid landscapes, hope blooms anew for endangered species, thanks to the dedication of local communities and conservationists.

Photos by Lindsay Puls

But the impact goes beyond numbers and statistics. These conservancies harbour dreams of a sustainable future, where over 400,000 hectares of land remain untouched, preserving the intricate web of life that sustains us all. From the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem boasting the largest lion population to Samburu’s sanctuary for majestic elephant herds, these havens nurture a thriving tapestry of flora and fauna.

Through the conservancy model, Saruni Basecamp and its partners have forged pathways towards a brighter tomorrow, where wildlife and wilderness can flourish for generations to come.