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.