Established in 1995, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Lewa) is an award-winning catalyst and model for community-centric conservation in northern Kenya. In 2013 Lewa was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features on the IUCN Green List of Excellence in protected area management. Lewa is the heart of wildlife conservation, sustainable development and responsible tourism in northern Kenya. Lewa’s successful working model has inspired replication by other conservation organizations in the region, notably through its close partner, the Northern Rangelands Trust, which comprises more than 30 community-owned conservancies.
Lewa is home to 13% of Kenya's rhino population, the world's largest resident population of the endangered Grevy's zebra, and many other species. The Conservancy also promotes landscape connectivity for wildlife, especially for migratory elephants that move from the high-altitude areas in the Mount Kenya Forest, through Lewa and the neighbouring Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, to habitats in Samburu and areas further north. Safe transit across these landscapes is key to the survival of over 6,500 elephants in northern Kenya.
Kenya’s 2030 National Wildlife Strategy promotes a vision where Kenya’s wildlife is healthy, resilient and valued by Kenyans, and recognizes that its economy is largely nature-based. Lewa’s success in wildlife conservation can be attributed to this same vision and understanding that our mission is important to our community. Lewa’s community includes thousands of local learners who enroll in Lewa’s Education Programme, some returning to become teachers to the next generation, over 50,000 visitors annually to Lewa’s four health clinics, 30,000 individuals who utilize water from Lewa’s 17 water projects, and over 1,800 women entrepreneurs who have leveraged opportunities through Lewa’s microcredit programme. Lewa also contributes to community forestry programmes, investing in the capacity of Community Forest Associations, and oversees six tree nurseries producing approx. 6,000 seedlings a year. Our community is the first line of defence against illegal activity and groups who seek to profit from illicit trade in rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products. Together Lewa and its communities partner with the Kenyan government, local authorities and international groups to maintain peace and security, protect our wildlife and keep each other safe.
Lewa’s Governance and Strategic Plan
Lewa is a Kenyan NGO, run and led by Kenyans. The Conservancy is governed by and managed under a Kenyan Board of Directors, which comprises respected leaders in Kenya’s business community, academic circles, and the wildlife conservation arena. Most of the 62,000 acres managed by the Conservancy is held within the Chikwe Trust, a permanent landholding trust established under Kenyan law. Lewa shares an unfenced boundary with neighbouring Borana Conservancy, which expands the protected area for rhino and other wildlife by an additional 32,000 acres. Funding for Lewa’s annual operating budget of almost $7 million comes from a range of sources, including earned income from tourism, support from partner organizations such as Zurich Zoo and The Nature Conservancy, and income from the Lewa Endowment. Roughly half of the operating budget is raised from committed donors from across the globe, particularly from the US, UK, and Canada. In each of these three countries, a Board of Trustees (or Directors) has been established to solicit and encourage donations, and performs fiduciary duties consistent with charitable requirements under national laws and regulations.
Lewa’s talented management team of Kenyan professionals works to deliver Lewa’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 that aims to build on its current strengths and “envisions a future where people across Kenya value, protect, and benefit from wildlife.” The Strategic Plan sets out ambitious goals for the five-year period, with clear metrics for success, which will depend both on increases in earned income with planned diversification and a coordinated effort to raise more funds internationally. These goals include a new multi-million dollar campaign to consolidate all of the land managed by Lewa within the Chikwe Trust; building the principal of the Lewa Endowment; and substantially increasing donations for Lewa’s annual operating budget.
Established in 1995, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Lewa) is an award-winning catalyst and model for community-centric conservation in northern Kenya. In 2013 Lewa was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features on the IUCN Green…