Location: Lekurruki Group Ranch, Mukogodo Division, Laikipia North District
Postal address: Lekurruki Group Ranch, PO Box 137 – 10400, Nanyuki
Manager: Peter Matunge
Contact: E: Lekkuruki@nrt-kenya.org T: 0724 107 998
Ethnicity: Mukogodo Maasai
Land Ownership: Group Ranch with titles having been issued under: Laikipia/Mumonyot II/1 and Laikipia/Mumonyot /2
Core Conservation Area: 11, 950 hectares
Main Livelihood: Pastoralism and tourism
Key Wildlife Species: Elephant, reticulated giraffe, rare forest species of plants, butterflies & birds
Year of Registration: 1999
Staff Employed from the Community: 26
Annual Operating Budget: US$ 100,000
The lush indigenous forest of Mukogodo borders the vast plains of Lekurruki, dotted with Acacia and Newtonia trees. The conservancy encompasses portions of the forest, giving it a unique diversity of habitats and species. Before it was established as a group ranch, the escarpment of the forest was suffering heavily from erosion due to overgrazing, an all too common problem facing pastoralists and consequently wildlife too. Lekurruki is also surrounded by three other community conservancies on its eastern flank making it an important wildlife corridor.
The Mukogodo Masai are historically hunter gatherers and bee keepers, but assimilation with the neighboring pastoralist tribes have meant that they too have now adopted the pastoralist way of life. The Lekurruki area lends itself to cattle farmers, owing to good grazing on the plains and access to the wood and water in the Mukogodo forest. However, as overgrazing led to degradation of the rangeland, the community recognized something had to be done to more sustainably manage their pastures to secure the future for their cattle, their wildlife and their livelihoods.
In January 2009, Lekurruki Conservation Trust contracted 18 security rangers to enhance stability in the area. Today they handle conflict resolution, livestock encroachment, cattle rustling and poaching attempts, as well as raising awareness in the community on conservation issues. The rangers 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.
Under NRT Trading's BeadWorks business, 133 women in Lekurruki 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.
As it encompasses both savannah and forest environments, Lekurruki Conservation Trust boasts many different species of wildlife and plants. Large herds of buffalo and elephant, which thrive in such habitats, can frequently be seen here, with one elephant herd totaling an estimated 450 individuals.
The Mukogodo Forest is one of the largest indigenous forests in East Africa at 74,000 acres, and contains 210 species of birds and roughly 100 species of butterfly. There is no doubt that without community cooperation and protection, there would be very little of this forest left.
The conservancy has implemented NRT’s grazing management program, which involves land use planning and integrating new ways of grazing. Bunched herding of cattle and designated grazing blocks are proving to help rehabilitate the rangeland, benefiting both the livestock and the wildlife that graze the same plains, and ensuring the sustainability of the natural resources.
In 2000, with assistance from the privately owned Borana Ranch, an eco-lodge was constructed within the core conservation area of Lekurruki. Since its opening to guests in June 2001, Tassia Lodge has been a premier tourist destination in northern Kenya, incorporating the true spirit of the unspoiled African bush. The lodge employs 90% of its staff from the Lekurruki Group Ranch, and provides valuable revenue for the conservancy, split between the annual operating costs (40%) and community projects such as water pumps, school bursaries and infrastructure (60%).
The Future for Lekurruki
With assistance from NRT and partner organizations, Lekurruki 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 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