|Location||Masalani Location, Ijara District|
|Postal address||P.O. Box 46, 70105 Masalani|
|Ethnicity||Abdullah Clan of Somali origin|
|Land ownership||Community land|
|Total area||19,000 hectares|
|Key wildlife species||Hirola antelope, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog|
|Year of registration||2007|
|Staff employed from the community||24|
|Annual operating budget||US$ 66,000|
While the majority of NRT conservancies host at least one endangered species, Ishaqbini holds a collection of the rarest. The hirola antelope is only found within this region in Kenya, and only a few hundred remain in the wild. The cooperation of the Somali pastoralist communities that make up Ishaqbini has been crucial to the conservation of this species, and to its habitat.
There are several Somali clans that call Ishaqbini home, which historically has caused some tension. As one of NRT’s newest members, a lot of emphasis has been placed on unity using the same strategies that proved effective in easing ethnic tensions in other conservancies. When the board at Ishaqbini was accused of manipulating the latest elections, the Council of Elders asked three members of its Conflict Resolution Team to visit the conservancy with NRT’s assistant community development manager, Gabriel Nyausi. The Council is the NRT’s governing body, made up of respected elders from each conservancy, and key partners in government, the private sector, NGO’s and donors. As a result of the meetings they convened, the conservancy board agreed to organize another, more transparent, round of elections. Easing the unrest between clans has enabled the conservancy to concentrate its efforts in conservation and a sustainable rangeland management that benefits everyone. The 22 rangers of Ishaqbini have been another vital tool in keeping the peace, and protecting the wildlife. They were trained with funding from NRT and generous support from the Kenya Wildlife service, at the Manyani Training School in the famous Tsavo National Park. Passing with flying colours, the team emerged with knowledge in discipline, field craft, wildlife law and wildlife monitoring.
The exact population number of remaining hirola varies considerably, but it is undisputedly Africa’s most endangered antelope. With assistance from NRT, KWS, The Nature Conservancy and IUCN, elders from the communities of Hara, Korissa, and Kotile that make up Ishaqbini Conservancy have been able to resource the funding and knowledge they need to protect this precious species. In August 2012, 48 Hirola were moved into a fenced off, predator-free enclosure of 3,000 hectares. This is the first ever fenced sanctuary on community land in Kenya that is dedicated for the conservation of a critically endangered species. By setting up a grazing committee, the communities have reduced the competition with livestock for food and water, for the Hirola still remaining outside the enclosure, which in turn has also helped to rehabilitate the rangeland. As a result of these measures, and increased awareness and security, it is hoped Hirola numbers in the conservancy will steadily rise.
The Conservancy currently hosts self-catered camping along the banks of Lake Ishaqbini or in the bush. Ishaqbini community rangers are made available for bush walks and the Conservancy Manager is available if guests want to learn more about the conservancy, its activities or the surrounding communities. Community members are interested in establishing a more formal tourism operation in the conservancy in the near future. Given the area’s unique species and biodiversity coupled with its abundant wildlife, Ishaqbini has great potential for tourism development.
With assistance from NRT and partner organizations, Ishaqbini aims to achieve the following in the coming years:
- To convene, along with all other NRT community conservancies, in annual general meetings to share plans and progress
- To take part in a livelihood baseline survey, commissioned by NRT, with a view of determining the status and priority of education, health, water, jobs, food security, infrastructure and current availability of government services
- To continue the strengthening of wildlife security and monitoring within the conservancy
- To sign a partnership memorandum of understanding, along with all other community conservancies, between themselves and NRT
- Implement a conservancy constitution, with the aim of building accountability, transparency, equity and effective representation in Ishaqbini
- To register as a not-for-profit company
- To develop a conservancy management plan endorsed by the constituent community
- To receive continuing support for the hirola sanctuary