The Saruni Rhino tourist lodge in Sera Community Conservancy is finishing the construction of a third banda which will double its capacity from 4 beds to 8, in order to meet popular demand. The lodge has featured in several high profile international travel magazines this year, most recently in the UK Independent, due to its unique partnership with the Sera community that allows it to offer the only black rhino tracking experience on foot in east Africa.
Saruni Lodges have been operating in Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy since 2008. On the back of this successful partnership, and Saruni’s faith in the community conservancy model, the tourism operator entered into an agreement with Sera Community Conservancy in late 2016. ‘Saruni Rhino’ officially launched in February 2017, enabling Sera to capitalise on the new black rhino sanctuary - one of the only community owned and operate black rhino sanctuaries in Africa.
To date, Sera Conservancy has received $24,000 in conservation fees revenue from Saruni – and even with the lodge closing for over a month to construct the additional room, projected revenue to Sera is just under $39,000. The banda is expected to be complete by mid December 2017. 12 casual labourers have been employed from Sera community to build the banda, which will enable Saruni to employ another 3 full time staff from the local community, bringing the total number of local employees to 10.
Tourist dollars are not only helping to protect the wildlife upon which the industry is built, but just as importantly, helping to instil a pride and an ownership of wildlife amongst conservancy members, who can see direct and tangible benefits between the elephants and rhinos that share their pasture, and their children’s education, jobs and more secure future.