Keeping community livelihoods and conservation afloat during COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: Adopt-an-Acre project

Founder: Riccardo Orizio- Saruni Camps and Lodges

Location of Project: Masai Mara and Samburu regions, Kenya

The late Nelson Mandela said: “Ultimately conservation is about people. If you don’t have sustainable development around wildlife parks, then the people will have no interest in them, and the parks will not survive.” This has resonated well with how Saruni has conducted its business since inception. Established in 2003, the company owns and runs four properties namely: Gold-rated Saruni Mara, Saruni Samburu, Saruni Wild and Saruni Rhino.

In line with its core etho of promoting responsible tourism, which remains unchanged to this day, the company has employed over 100 members of the local Maasai and Samburu communities in its four properties.

Pictured (Saruni Samburu staff)

In addition, the company also pays hundreds of local landowners land rates in the four conservancies where it conducts business namely: Mara North Conservancy, Lemek Conservancy, Kalama Conservancy and Sera Conservancy. For the company, the annual cost in wages and land rates is above USD 1.1 million. The money not only contributes to protection of wildlife and its habitat, but also in supporting local livelihoods. It is on this basis, that Saruni is now widely considered one of the role models in responsible tourism in Kenya. At the heart of it all and without whom none of this would be possible, are the guests who choose to stay with Saruni during their safari to Kenya and pay conservation fees as part of their sustainable travel.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the company’s efforts to generate revenue from tourism to meet the obligations highlighted above. This could potentially spell doom for the conservation efforts put in place by creating potential threats such as repossession of land by community land owners and change of land use for instance to farming. The company has responded to this by establishing the “Adopt-an-Acre” project to address these unprecedented challenges.

Pictured: Guests participate in a number of activities such as game drives

How it works

It’s worth mentioning that apart from the many social development and conservation projects supported by the company, it also pays a significant amount of money as land rates in the four conservancies where it operates. For instance in 2019, the company generated a total income of USD 1.1 million to the local communities, which comprised of USD 650000 in conservancy fees and USD 450000 in salaries. This income benefitted an area of 83500 acres of land in Maasai Mara and 931000 acres in Samburu. This is by no means an easy feat! Therefore through the “Adopt-an-acre” project, the company is encouraging wildlife enthusiasts, friends, supporters and clients to play a part in its conservation mission by ‘Adopting an Acre of land’ in the conservancy through a donation, so that community and individual land owners can continue to earn money from the leases. The donation starts from USD 35 for 1 acre. In addition, as a special incentive, anyone adopting acres for the contribution of USD 1050 or more will receive a credit from Saruni for the same amount donated to be used towards the payment of a stay at any of the Saruni lodges and camps in 2021 and 2022.

The success so far

As it is often said, the only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Nothing could be closer from the truth for Saruni’s “Adopt-An-acre” project. Pushing any doubts to the side, so far the company has achieved a great level of success. According to the company’s website, as of 15th July 2020, a total of USD 26,645.89 had been raised against a target of USD 100,000.

What you can do to take part in the “Adopt-an-Acre” initiative

When the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end and tourism returns to its pre-pandemic levels, “Adopt-an-Acre” project will most probably be regarded as one of the most ambitious and successful blueprints in lifting lives and protecting wildlife and its habitat during a pandemic. For continued success, the company is therefore encouraging you to be part of its journey in leaving our world a better place by donating to this great initiative. If you wish to be part of this cause, please do this via the company’s webpage dedicated for the project. For any queries or comments regarding this project, please feel free to contact the company’s CEO Riccardo Orizio directly on riccardo@saruni.com

Saruni remains very grateful for the generous support received so far, and looks forward to welcoming its guests back again and again, albeit in the knowledge that we still need to continue adhering to the health and safety measures even as tourism reopens its doors!

For more information regarding this project please visit the company’s website and social media pages on:

Website: https://saruni.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaruniLodges/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaruniCamp

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