Welcome to Kenya Wildlife Service
Location: Tana River County
Conservation Area: Coast
Year of Establishment: 2007
Communities: Ishaqbin and Ndera
Wildlife Species: Hirola antelope, buffalo, lion, leopard, African wild dog, desert warthog, bush-buck, harvey’s duiker, topi , lesser kudu, Tana River Red Colobus, reticulated giraffe, elephant and Tana Mangabey
The Ishaqbin Conservancy is a community initiative in the Tana River Primate Reserve ecosystem in the coastal region of Kenya. Two communities, Ishaqbin and Ndera are collaborating with Kenya Wildlife Service through a memorandum of understanding for the development of a tourism facility within the conservancy. Tana River Primate Reserve was first gazetted as Game Reserve in January 1976 to conserve the remaining unique flood plain forest. The reserve straddles the Tana River so that 49% of its area is on the West Bank and 51% is on the East Bank. The Ishaqbini community Conservancy is located adjacent to the Tana River Primate Reserve on the Eastern Bank of the Tana River. The conservancy covers about 19,000 hectares with about 1/3 of this area falling under the gazetted Tana River Primate Reserve under the jurisdiction of Kenya Wildlife Service. The conservancy was established in the year 2007 with the key objective of conserving the approximately 200 endangered Hirola antelopes that reside in the area. The area is also home to a number of large mammals including Elephants, Giraffe, Topi and buffalo as well as a wide variety of other biological resources. The two communities have been working with the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) since the inception of the conservancy. The Trust which is a Biodiversity Conservation NGO based at Lewa Downs in Isiolo, has facilitated the development of several crucial administrative structures for the conservancy.
Community wellbeing and sustainable Livelihoods
With the completion of the construction of the tourism facility the conservancy will begin to receive direct benefits out of sustainable wildlife conservation by setting aside the 19,000hectares of their land for conservation. So far, the community members have benefited from wildlife conservation education programs which led to the formation of the conservancy. In addition, the following are other benefits which have greatly improved the livelihoods of the communities.
The conservancy supports about 6,000 members from the communities. A tourism facility to be constructed within the conservancy, which is a first within this ecosystem will open up the area both for the social and economic development of the people of this area.
The conservancy will form a buffer to the Primate Reserve and moderate the level of human interference inside the reserve. The conservancy is also a habitat and home to about 200 endangered hirola antelopes and therefore an important wildlife conservation ecosystem for the country. The conservancy covers the area outside the East bank of the Primate Reserve and covers 3 locations of Hara, Korisa and Kotille within the coastal region of Kenya. Management plans and reports for the Tana Primate ecosystem have cited the need for tourism development as a means of securing the conservation agenda with the communities around the Reserve. The site for the development of the tourism facility spills into the eastern bank of the reserve and therefore the need for collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service in sustainable conservation and management of the area. A prospectus for the project has already been produced and several investors had assessed the area positively. With this collaboration the communities will benefit from improved security and technical assistance from Kenya Wildlife Service whose core mandate is wildlife conservation and management
This tourism circuit on which the conservancy lies is currently in focus by the government for development through the County government and is likely to be a priority project for this particular county.
The site also falls under the jurisdiction of KWS which manages the Primate reserve. The delineated area for the conservancy is strategically located on the shores of a seasonal ox-bow lake, surrounded by a high canopy riverine forest within the reserve. The conservancy which was established in the year 2000 on the other hand is managed by various committees with the core management team currently being financed by Northern Rangelands Trust. This consists of a manager, an accountant, 15 scouts and 5 Kenya Police Reservists. Other committees exist that handle matters such as livestock grazing, finance and tourism.
The role of the conservancy has been to educate and enforce the park regulations and control the human activity taking place in both the conservancy and the reserve. With Kenya Wildlife Service as a long term partner and the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the sustainability and expansion of the conservancy which is part of a strategy to increase space for wildlife through community involvement is guaranteed.
The Ishaqbin wildlife conservancy brings together two indigenous communities of the Ndera and Ishaqbin. This partnership was forged to venture into sustainable wildlife conservation as a land use option for improved livelihoods.
Since inception of the wildlife conservancy in the year 2007, the two communities have been in partnership with the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) towards realization of this activity. The Trust, a Biodiversity Conservation NGO based at Lewa Downs in Isiolo in northern Kenya, has facilitated the development of several crucial administrative structures for the conservancy which include, community mobilization and conservation education, Construction of conservancy Headquarters and game scouts accommodation, purchase of a 4x4 land cruiser and a motor bike for patrols, employment of a conservancy manager, accountant, 15 game-scouts and 5 Kenya Police Reservists, training of scouts on wildlife monitoring, purchase of Modern VHF radio communication and purchase of high quality Mobile Camping gears for scouts
Kenya Wildlife Service on the other hand has been working in partnership with the communities since the gazettment of the reserve in 1976. KWS has been performing its wildlife conservation mandate of community conservation and education awareness, problem animal control and security for the communities against wildlife menace and training of the members of the communities to carry out conservation activities within the conservancy.
The initiative by both the Ishaqbin and Ndera communities has greatly influenced changes in the land use activities in this ecosystem. The communities have now embraced wildlife conservation and tourism as a land use option as opposed to agriculture and livestock farming within the 19,000 hectraes that they have set aside specifically for wildlife conservation with special emphasis to the endangered Hirola antelopes. The conservancy acts as a buffer for the Tana Primate National Reserve and its development will greatly contribute to the livelihoods of both communities since the initiative will create open up the area for tourism and other economic investments in the region