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The Eco-Warrior Award is a Kenyan tourism award that recognizes and celebrates outstanding contributions to ecotourism practice in Kenya. It is aimed at motivating winning ventures/operations and industry at large to embrace practices that are ecologically and ethically sustainable in order to compete with the best in the world.

The 12th chapter of the award welcomed Ol Pejeta Conservancy as a participant. Ol Pejeta Conservancy conserves wildlife, provides a sanctuary for great apes and generates income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for reinvestment in conservation and communities. Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to three of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. It is the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, in a Sanctuary established to rehabilitate animals rescued from the black market. It has some of the highest predator densities in Kenya, and still manages a very successful livestock program.

The conservancy uses innovative and sustainable development model to constantly fulfill its goal of being a role model for conservation; both locally and globally. The conservancy through the model has shown positive contribution towards the protection of the environment e.g. by using sustainable conservation plan to integrate communities in order to achieve desired results. The community has benefited through education, healthcare and infrastructure. The model also involves the replication of these projects across the landscape.

In light of the above the judges led by Judy Kepha-Gona declared the conservancy the Ecowarrior of SDG15 which states, Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. This took place on the 12th Ecowarrior Award on 27th Sep 2017.

According to the judges, in regards to conservation project improvement measures, Ol Pejeta Conservancy demonstrated the use of livestock control schemes and integrated communities to increase tree and vegetation cover. They also highlighted that the Conservancy is keen on supporting communities to use fuel efficient stoves and is geared towards promoting responsible consumption and production.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy was also declared the overall ecowarrior for garnering the highest scores from judges in all evaluations and won in two categories. They were their bold and daring initiatives; Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a self -supporting conservancy. Additionally, the conservancy possesses a structured approach to sustainable development which covers monitoring action plans, documenting and measuring impact. They were also recognized for producing records and reports of activities and mentoring other conservancies and a large number of young people.

Ol Pejeta’s drive for innovation covers everything from advanced conservation techniques, community development concepts, technological evolution in livestock monitoring and agricultural expertise as well as our marketing and even our communications strategies; truly making them role models of conservation and owners of 3 trophies in total –Ecowarrior Award.

The award’s deviation to march the International Year of Sustainable Development came at an opportune time, a time when the productivity of land has reduced significantly, and biodiversity loss is the order of the order of the day. Using Sustainable Tourism as a tool of development means to a country means joining hands with various player of the industry to secure the future of tourism while at the same time ensuring the current needs of the economy are met through eco-conscience trade.

Read more about the 2017 Ecowarrior Awards 

Ol Pejeta, the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa is this year’s overall winner of the annual Ecowarrior Award. The 90,000-acre private wildlife conservancy – is situated on the equator, in Kenya’s Laikipia District, between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kenya.

During the Ecowarrior Award which was held on 27th Sep 2017 on the World Tourism Day, Ol Pejeta Conservancy won under SDG8, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 8 states; Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

They proved worthy of the recognition by taking care of all the three P’s of sustainability; that is Profit making (business operation) People mindedness and protection of the planet.

Since inception, the conservancy is dedicated to increasing livelihood opportunities through employment, mentorship, support for local enterprise, promoting wellbeing of host communities, guaranteeing a future to workers through a well-designed staff welfare, investment and retirement program. The staff run a pension scheme and SACCO which avails financial assistance to staff for education and investment.

Ol Pejeta conservancy provides a market and market linkages for farm produce produced within the community. They support the Pamoja initiative which is community owned, to make and export wooden crafts. They also conduct village visits for their guests.

Other aspects of sustainable tourism are supported by this entity include the protection of the planet which is the main reason for their existence as explained above. Through the energy efficient jikos supplied to the community, they have reduced the use of firewood by 55% hence preserving forests. Ol Pejeta is also one of Kenya’s greatest income generator. Last year (2016) they payed dollars/Kshs? 244 million in national taxes, county levy and community support.

What the judges were looking for: Ol Pejeta did exceptionally well in a category that required commitment and action to advancing equal employment opportunities for local communities, youth, women and persons with disabilities. Applicants had to demonstrate application of same labour rights for local communities, women, youth and persons with disabilities. Promotion of employee welfare and development and discouraging child labor and sexual exploitation of children; and forced labor in the business and supply chain. Including commitment to Poverty eradication in the local community

It is the hope of the organizers -Ecotourism Kenya, the judges and partners, that tourism country wide will adopt the 3D style of implementing their company strategy to cater for tourism, environment and business. Hence bringing to life the sustainable tourism concept, that aims to achieve harmony between the environment, businesses and people of the planet.

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