Lewa Savannah, Kenya

Dominic Maringa, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Eunice Kamau, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Timothy Kaaria, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Martin Bauert, Zoo Zurich

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) sits between the peaks and ridges of Mount Kenya and the arid savannahs of northern Kenya. Its open grasslands, shrublands, forests and wetlands are part of Mt. Kenya UNESCO world heritage site. LWC is also a Man and Biosphere Reserve, and has been green listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for excellence in protected area management. 

Lewa is home to many species, some of which are endangered. Here, Dominic Maringa and his team at LWC set up a camera trap for Triggered by Motion.

The area around LWC has two seasons: one wet, one dry. This influences Lewa’s wildlife: The birth rate increases during the wet season, whilst the dry season brings increased movement as the animals search for favourable foraging areas and water.

Researchers at Lewa keep track of these movements. For example, they set up camera traps at the entrances to the conservancy to monitor the animals’ movements in and out of it.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home not only to lions and elephants but also to one of the largest Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) populations worldwide, as well as to the Black rhino (Diceros bicornis). Through hunting and poaching, the populations of these two endangered species in Kenya went down drastically within the last 70 years: from over 15’000 Grevy’s zebras in 1970 to about 2’350 animals today, and from an estimated 20’000 black rhinos to less than 1000.

Lewa holistically manages these critically endangered species through stewarding their habitat and mitigating threats from poaching and human-wildlife conflict. The conservancy also has exclusion zones that filter out heavy browsers, for example elephants. This ensures that the black rhinos find enough food. Additionally, camera traps are used for rhino and predator monitoring.

Thanks to intensive conservation efforts and efficient population management, the population is slowly recovering. This has allowed Lewa to translocate animals to a newly created and protected rhino habitat beyond Lewa’s boundaries, contributing to the durability of the species.

Grevy’s zebras are being translocated, too. Some animals now live at the at the «Lewa Savannah» of Zoo Zurich, which is a conservation partner and supporter of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.