A community-owned lodge tucked away in the expansive Sarara Valley in Namunyak Community Conservancy is set to generate 10 million shillings in revenue to the local community in its first year.
The tourist lodge was set up to capitalise on the growing wildlife numbers in the area, as well as its breathtaking mountain range.
Supported by NRT and run by local people, Namunyak Community Conservancy works to transform the lives of its members by promoting peace, sustainably managing natural resources for the benefit of livestock and wildlife, and linking conservation to jobs and business opportunities. Thanks to these efforts, numbers of key wildlife species such as elephants, oryx, giraffe, lion and Grevy’s zebra are all increasing in Namunyak, opening up opportunities for ecotourism.
Named the ‘Rhino Boma’, the lodge is comprised of eight tree houses and is able to host 16 guests. In keeping with its forested surroundings, the tree houses are connected by a suspended wooded rail bridge, blending into the landscape and offering guests an intimate wilderness experience. The development of the lodge was supported by Conservation International.
It was officially opened on the 28th of June 2018 in a ceremony attended by the Deputy Governor of Samburu County Julius Leseeto, NRT’s CEO Tom Lalampaa, area MCA Lucas Siriman and of course Namunyak community members.
“The initiative is one of its kind and it is seeking to empower Samburu community. It is an opportunity for our people to tap into the tourism industry. We are glad that this facility is homegrown and it is employing locals,” said Julius Leseeto the Deputy Governor of Samburu County.
The Rhino Boma is set to generate ten million shillings this year alone. When combined with revenue from Sarara Lodge, which has been in operation since 1996, Namunyak's total income from tourism in 2018 is projected to reach Ksh. 33 million.
As well as fundraising for conservancies and providing them with advice, the Northern Rangelands Trust helps to broker agreements between communities and tourism operators. Tourism revenue was up 20% in NRT member conservancies in 2017. Conservancies commercial revenue is split 60:40, with 40% going towards conservancy operating costs and 60% going towards livelihoods projects voted upon by the community, typically water, healthcare and education.