Location: Gir Gir Group Ranch, Waso Division, Samburu East District
Postal address: PO Box 464, Isiolo, Kenya
Manager: Andrew Lesiapadei
Contact: E: Kalama@nrt-kenya.org T: 0721 463 930
Ethnicity: Samburu
Population: 4,000
Land Ownership: Registered, title issued under Gir Gir Group Ranch
Core Conservation Area: 46,100 hectares
Main Livelihood: Livestock keeping and tourism
Key Wildlife Species: Elephant, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, wild dog, cheetah, lesser kudu, gerenuk, and leopard
Year of Registration: 2002
Staff Employed from the Community: 35
Annual Operating Budget: US$ 124,500

Background

Encompassed by protected land and playing host to a section of the great Ewaso Nyiro river makes Kalama Community Conservancy a favorable rangeland for people and wildlife alike. For the Samburu, the acacia grasslands hold the promise of well fed cattle, while herds of elephants and other wildlife take advantage of an increasingly secure and well watered corridor between the northern reserves of Sera and Namunyak, to the southern reserves of West Gate, Samburu and Nakuprat-Gotu.

The People

Primarily pastoralists, the Samburu have a wealth of knowledge built up through decades of farming the harsh terrains of northern Kenya. But as changing times bring increased pressure on natural resources, grazing cattle has become a volatile livelihood. The registration of Kalama as an NRT conservancy has enabled members of the community to diversify their income through alternative livelihoods, as well as allowing pastoralists to combine their traditional knowledge with modern science to more sustainably manage their rangeland. A holistic approach to grassland management ensures a balanced and sustainable ecosystem fit enough to support healthy cattle, wildlife and communities together. As part of this, a conservancy grazing committee has been elected and trained, and grass seedling harvesting is ongoing. Find out more about the rangelands programme

Under NRT Trading's BeadWorks business, eight women’s groups in Kalama have now been trained in beadcraft, leadership, accounting, and marketing skills. The BeadWORKS programme helps to diversify family income and reduce reliance on livestock. It also empowers women to become business owners, breadwinners and agents for change in their communities. Meet some of the women here. 

Ecosystem

Because of its location, Kalama is a critical migratory corridor between northern and southern conservation areas. During the 2009 drought, elephant numbers in the conservancy rocketed as they flocked to the well supplied water hole near the eco lodge. The reduced impact of livestock grazing in the area meant the herds also had a plentiful supply of food, which the endangered Grevy’s zebra rely on too. In 2008, approximately 2,400 Grevy’s were thought to be roaming Kenya’s northern rangelands, an 80% decline since the 1970’s. Kalama is home to substantial populations of the species, and plays a vital role in its conservation. 30 community rangers patrol Kalama, and are critical in raising conservation awareness, gathering intelligence, managing conflict and collecting basic wildlife data. Trained with funding from NRT and generous support from the Kenya Wildlife service, they emerged with knowledge in discipline, field craft, wildlife law and wildlife monitoring.

Visiting Kalama

With the increased security and wildlife numbers on the rise, Kalama Community Conservancy is a popular tourist destination. The Saruni Samburu Lodge opened in 2009, employing 18 members of the local community and generating thousands of dollars of revenue for the conservancy. The year it opened, revenue to the conservancy totalled 70,000 USD. 

60% of this revenue goes back into the community to fund local projects, while the other 40% is used to fund the annual operating costs. For visitors more inclined to the raw experience of the African bush, Kalama now also provides campsites. If you are interested in camping here call the AdventureWORKS hotline on +254 (0) 701 295 357 or email tourism@nrt-kenya.org. 

The Future of Kalama

With assistance from NRT and partner organisations, Kalama 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 
  • To secure funding to repair the airstrip 
  • To take part in peace building exercises with surrounding communities
  • To register as not-for-profit
  • To develop a conservancy management plan endorsed by the constituent community in Kalama