2014 Eco Warrior Awards Winners
Conservancy of the Year – Private (Sponsored by Laikipia Wildlife Forum)
Winner: Borana Conservancy
Borana Conservancy is actively involved in the conservation of the endangered black and white rhinos. It works in collaboration with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service; the opening of the fence between Borana and Lewa conservancies has resulted in the creation of a 100,000-acre contiguous rhino habitat. The conservancy has also increased its security and wildlife teams from 17 to 101 in the past three years, and enhanced their skills by having them trained twice a year.
The conservancy also keeps extensive photographical information on the effects of their land reclamation efforts, operates the Borana mobile clinic that has registered 10,000 treatments in 2013, and fully sponsors 8 teachers’ salaries and fees for 25 students from 6 different schools.
Conservancy of the Year – Community (Sponsored by Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association)
Winner: Ngare Ndare Forest Trust
Ngare Ndare Forest Trust maintains the Ngare Ndare Forest, a 5540-hectare forest that runs through Meru and Laikipia counties and borders the Lewa and Borana conservancies.
The trust operates the 22-feet high, 500 meter-long canopy walkway, which draws guests staying at the facilities within the conservancies. The canopy has helped the Trust to raise revenue for its operations and 60% of it is shared among the six neighboring communities.
The trust also introduced a household based biogas cooking technology to the families who still rely on forest firewood for cooking. The families used to go to the forest 3 to 5 times per week for firewood collection. Each trip takes a minimum of 5hours and therefore, currently the families can save a minimum of 20 hours per week which is spent in other productive household activities like farming, grazing and other income generating activities. To ensure sustainability of the project, the Trust set up a revolving fund where the recipients are required to put down a 10% deposit and pay the balance over 15 months.
Ecotourism Enterprise of the Year – Lodge (Sponsored by Kenya Tourism Board)
Winner: Severin Sea Lodge
Severin Sea Lodge’s activities were seen to be in line with its environmental charter, which focuses on increased income generation for local communities through the purchase of local produce for consumption by the lodge’s guests, and active involvement in clean-ups of the beach in collaboration with the locals.
Ecotourism Enterprise of the Year – Tented Camp (Sponsored by Tourism Fund)
Winner: Sanctuary Olonana
Sanctuary Olonana is an award-winning tented safari camp on a private stretch of the Mara River in the heart of Kenya’s most famous game reserve, the Masai Mara. The camp was built along sustainable lines which, along with its innovative projects, have earned Sanctuary Olonana a great name within Kenya.
Guests at the camp actively participate in planting trees around the camp; over 8,000 indigenous trees have been planted. Over 80 percents of fruits, vegetables and herbs used in the meals served within the camp are grown in the organic garden, which is fertilized using compost manure from the camp’s waste cages.
Sanctuary Olonana supports the Olonana Maasai Women group in selling their artifacts to the camp’s guests. The Masai ladies are also actively involved in the décor of the camp alongside its maintenance, specifically in the camp’s restaurant, lounge and library.
The camp has also initiated a student exchange program where children at the local schools are taught by the guests, who also bring reading and playing materials.
Ecotourism Enterprise of the Year – Community Based (Sponsored by Ecotourism Kenya)
Winner: Mlilo Community Based Tourism Association
Since its establishment in 2003, Mlilo Community Based Tourism Association has strived to include ecotourism as one of the key development agendas in Taita Taveta County. Through lobbying at various levels, the then Taita Taveta District Development Committee adopted ecotourism as an important District Development Planning Strategy towards the realization of Vision 2030.
Mlilo has developed strategic partnerships with various government and private sectors in tourism: in partnership with the KWS Education Department and all Technical Heads of Departments in Taita District, Mlilo made field visits to map out tourist hot Spots and identify potential nature-based tourism enterprises in the area. This has led to the development of, among other products, a battlefield tourism package that was actively used in the First World War centenary celebrations that began in August 2014.
Mlilo Collaborated with various communities to form community-based tourism enterprises in the Coast region. Mlilo has provided strategic partnerships with various communities to form community-based tourism enterprises in Taita, Kilifi and Malindi. Mlilo has also participated in organizing the Mekatilili Festival over the past three years. This was attended by inhabitants of Taita-Taveta, including descendants of Mwangeka and Mekatilili wa Menza.
Ecotourism Enterprise of the Year – Tours and Travel (Sponsored by Kenya Association of Tour Operators)
Winner: UNIGLOBE Let’s Go Travel
UNIGLOBE Let’s Go Travel applies a three-way holistic approach to its corporate social responsibility operations: direct business investments in supporting community projects and community tourism businesses; traveller’s philanthropy, and establishing partnerships and networks.
It is involved in an education partnership with Kalalu Secondary School in Laikipia and Kings Oak Academy in Bristol, UK; community empowerment with Limuru Children’s Centre and Limuru Feeding program for the elderly; support of the Isecheno bandas in Kakamega forest run by the Kakamega Environmental Education Program, and support of the Il Ngwesi community lodge through marketing, booking and reservation services.
Ecotourism Enterprise of the Year – Airline (Sponsored by Sun Africa Hotels)
Winner: Safarilink Aviation
Safarilink Aviation has joined in partnerships as diverse as the areas covered by their flights over the past decade. Safarlink is a long-term sponsor of the Colobus Conservation Trust in Diani, and provides air transport for doctors and patients in Lamu in conjunction with the Medical and Education Aid for Kenya (MEAK). It supports the Mt. Kenya Trust through in-kind donations of flight tickets, alongside printing & distribution of Mt. Kenya ecosystem booklets to schools. For the past three years Safarilink has supported the three-day Aitong medical camp in Masai Mara, in conjunction with the Cheli & Peacock Trust and the Kicheche Community Trust. It has also introduced a school education partnership program with Elsa Primary School in Samburu and Naboisho Primary School in the Mara, and joined Wildife Direct in its elephant advocacy campaign ‘Hands Off Our Elephants.’ Safarilink also supports wildlife and livelihood projects in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Eco-Rated Facility of the Year (Sponsored by African Wildlife Foundation)
Winner: Kicheche Laikipia
Kicheche Laikipia is a semi-permanent camp located in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Established in 2006 and managed by Kicheche Camps Limited, the camp is made up of 6 guest tents with a total bed capacity of 12 visitors. The camp received Gold Eco-Rating certification in August 2014 for its detailed inventories on water, waste & energy consumption that are regularly updated and openly viewed by the staff, and its efficient solid waste management.
Kicheche’s 3R (re-use, reduce and recycle) policy has resulted in significant reduction on plastic, metallic, glass and organic waste. The camp has a strict no plastic bottles policy – drinking water is served in reusable 10-litre aluminium dispensers. Metallic waste tins are used to store honey and to make candle holders. Waste wine bottles are cut into water glasses and flower vases, whereas a few of the used wine bottles are decorated with beads and used to serve water at the guest tents. Waste Tetra-packs are used to plant indigenous tree seedlings within the camp. Used tyres are filled with soil and used for growing herbs. Organic waste, such as potato and carrot peels and spinach and kale sticks, are used to make salads.
Excess plastic, glass, metallic and electronic waste is disposed to recycling firms through Kicheche Camps’ central purchasing office in Nairobi or where possible through recycling companies in Nanyuki town.
More details on Kicheche Laikipia’s achievements can be found on their Eco-Rating profile.
Ecotourism Partnership of the Year – Community-Investor (Sponsored by African Conservation Centre)
Winner: Westgate Community Conservancy-Sasaab Lodge
The partnership between this community conservancy and this lodge that’s part of The Safari Collection has demonstrated diversity in areas of support: education on biodiversity conservation through the Lion Kids Camp, the Mama Simba-Ewaso Lions aimed at involving the women, and the Running for Lions marathon; medical care through dental clinics; clean-ups of Samburu area, and empowerment of the girl child using education and sports through the Team Talk project.
Ecotourism Guide of the Year (Sponsored by Kenya Wildlife Trust)
Winner: Onesmus Irungu – Rekero Camp
Onesmus Irungu is a Silver Level guide at Asilia Africa’s Rekero Camp. An avid wildlife photographer whose photos have been used in various publications, his skills have been used in collection of data for the Mara-Meru Cheetah, Mara Cheetah and Lion, Elephant Research among other wildlife research projects. As chairman of the Rekero Camp-Asilia Africa Staff Union, he also engages the staff through the Rekero Fitness Challenge and the Rekero-Asilia Environmental Days around the camp.
Onesmus actively makes use of social media to promote wildlife conservation and advocate for responsible practices by guests while on safari. This he does on Facebook through his own page and the Kenyans for Wildlife group.
On his days off Onesmus can be found at the Hanne Howard Fund, a home in Lenana slum for orphans and children from broken families. He guides the children on nature walks through the Ngong Road forest, teaching them about the various flora and fauna. He is also a member of Nature Kenya, East African Wildlife Society, St. John’s Ambulance, Rotaract Nairobi, KPSGA and the Succulenta Group.
Ecotourism Journalist of the Year (Sponsored by Go Places)
Winner: Fleur Ng’weno – Nature Kenya
Fleur Ng’weno is a naturalist, writer and editor. She has been actively involved in education initiatives on conservation through the publication of literature focused on children, as editor of the Rainbow Children’s Magazine. She is also one of the pioneers of Nature Kenya’s renowned bird walks that are held every Wednesday morning, aimed at identifying important areas for bird conservation.
As a naturalist Fleur was part of a team that discovered the breeding ground for one of the world’s rare species of birds, the Clarke’s Weaver, in Arabuko-Sokoke and the Dakacha Woodlands in Kilifi County.
Ecotourism Student Innovation Award (Sponsored by Virgin Limited Edition)
Winner: Umi Njoka – Kenyatta University
Umi Mohamed Njoka is a Bachelor of Science graduate in Ecotourism, Hotel and Institution Management with IT from Maseno University, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies and Community Development at Kenyatta University.
While she was a student, Umi was an intern at Sweetwaters Serena and Ecotourism Kenya, and thereafter was a term contract employee at the Kenya Forest Service’s Ecotourism Department. At KFS she assisted in the implementation of the KFS Ecotourism Master Plan by planning the use of ecotourism department funds and licensing of ecotourism enterprises. She also handled the visitation database, ecotourism licensees’ database, data on the impact of tourism in forest reserves, and enquiries on ecotourism and surveys on visitor satisfaction.
Umi is currently a volunteer technical advisor at the Ruiru Go Green Movement, an initiative which was established by environmental clubs from different secondary schools in Ruiru. She is in charge of providing technical support to the movement, soliciting for funds through proposal writing, and coming up with ways of creating awareness on the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable environmental management.
Ecotourism Training Program of the Year (Sponsored by AFEW-Kenya)
Winner: Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – Institute of Tourism & Hospitality Management
In 2012, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology established Dedan Kimathi University Wildlife Conservancy, an extension of Nyeri Forest along Nyeri-Mweiga Road. In this conservancy, the university has managed to conserve over 251 faunal species including amphibians, reptiles, 9 grazing mammals and dozens of bird species. The 140-acre conservancy is set to be a center for wildlife research for both local and international scientists, to advance knowledge and skills on the management of endangered plant and animal species. The conservancy is used for training the university’s students on Tourism, Hospitality management and sustainable natural resource management.
The university is also developing a high-end Eco lodge in the conservancy, made up of 10 cottages and a similar number of executive tents. This solar-powered facility will be constructed using natural materials to blend in with the conservancy’s indigenous forest. It will be managed by the university’s Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management and, along with the conservancy, are expected to provide a resource for training the university’s students on tourism, hospitality management and sustainable natural resource management.
Ecotourism Student Host Organization of the Year (Sponsored by Ecotourism Kenya)
Winner: Mlilo Community Based Tourism Association
Mlilo Community Based Tourism Association has hosted over 100 students as interns, who have assisted the organization in developing various community projects in Kenyas coastal region through construction and marketing of homestays, campsites and other tourist hotspots. These students are from universities in Kenya such as Egerton, Kenyatta, Technical University of Kenya, Strathmore, Chuka, and University of Kabianga, and from European universities such as La Rochelle Business School and Eigsi Engineering School in France.
Mlilo provides the students with a platform for gaining experience through development of various community projects in Kenya, and in the process through interactions with the local community the students know more about the culture of the local communities in the coastal region.