Published Date January 2016
Author(s) Space for Giants
Full Paper: Space for Giants Annual Report
Published Data October 2012
Author(s) Dr Max Graham
Laikipia County is one of East Africa’s most important areas for wildlife conservation for several reasons. First, Laikipia contains higher populations of large mammals than any protected or unprotected landscape in Kenya, outside of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Secondly Laikipia is rich in biodiversity with over ninety-five species of mammals, 540 species of birds, over 700 species of plants and almost 1000 species of invertebrates already identified. However it is perhaps Laikipia’s assemblage of large, globally threatened mammals that makes it particularly unique from a biodiversity perspective. Laikipia contains half of Kenya’s black rhinos, the country’s second largest population of elephants, Kenya’s third largest and only stable population of lions, the world’s sixth largest population of African wild dogs, a large proportion of the world’s remaining Grevy’z zebras, perhaps as many as two thirds of the world’s remaining Reticulated Giraffe, a globally significant population of cheetah, Kenya’s largest population of patas monkeys and a unique race of hartebeest. Laikipia is arguably, therefore, one of the last viable refuges for large terrestrial mammals in East Africa. Third, wildlife in Laikipia is generating significant benefits. In 2009 the wildlife sector generated an estimated $US 20,500,000 in tourism revenue, directly supporting 6,500 people. The wildlife sector raised a further $3,500,000 for social development projects such as education, healthcare, infrastructure development, security and livelihood support and $5,000,000 for wildlife conservation. Fourth, Laikipia is at the cutting edge of community conservation. It is here that the world’s first and perhaps most famous community-owned and managed wildlife lodge was created, “Ilngwezi”. There have been many further community owned conservation initiatives since, largely with the support of two local membership-based conservation organisations, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum and the Northern Rangelands Trust. These organisations are creating capacity among local people to manage and benefit from wildlife in a way that is innovative and possibly, unique, in East Africa. Lastly Laikipia is a global hub of learning on the relationship between people and wildlife in shared landscapes. There is perhaps nowhere else where the challenges and opportunities for wildlife conservation, outside of protected areas, are better understood.