Location: Trust land of the communities of Serolevi and Losesia under Wamba Division, Samburu East District
Postal address: c/o Northern Rangelands Trust, Private Bag, Isiolo
Manager: Reuben Lendira
Contact: E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0720 201 433
Ethnicity: Samburu, Rendille, Borana
Land Ownership: Community land, but with Losesia community under the process of registration for group ranch status
Core Conservation Area: 345,000 hectares
Main Livelihood: Pastoralism and tourism
Key Wildlife Species: Black rhino, elephant, wild dog, lion, gerenuk, Beisa oryx, buffalo, reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra
Year of Registration: 2001
Staff Employed from the Community: 36
Annual Operating Budget: $118,000
Sera forms part of the large rangeland mass that also encompasses Biliqo-Belesa,Namunyak and Melako. Samburu communities formed the conservancy with the aim of linking the three rival ethnic groups that live in the area; the Samburu, Borana and Rendille. All communities are primarily pastoralists, with a bloody history of ethnic conflict. It was agreed that by the community conservancies that working together, securing pace and sustainable rangelands would be more easily achieved. Such was the progress of the communities, that in May 2015, the Sera Rhino Sanctuary was established. Sera became the first community conservancy in East Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino.
Almost half of all NRT member conservancies are home to Samburu, a semi nomadic, pastoralist community closely related to the Maasai. They 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. By joining NRT, pastoralists can combine their traditional knowledge with modern science to more sustainably manage their rangeland, and other members of the community have means of diversifying their income through alternative livelihoods, so as not to rely so heavily on livestock.
Under NRT Trading's BeadWorks business, 236 women in Sera 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.
Surrounded by protected land, Sera benefits from abundant wildlife that roam between the rangelands. As with most of the NRT conservancies, Sera plays its part in hosting important populations of the endangered Grevy’s zebra, as well as many other precious species. The hard work and dedication of the communities in Sera has resulted in their conservancy serving as a fantastic example that improved security and better rangeland management can indeed bring back the wildlife. The number of sightings of elephant here rose from 3000 in 2006 to over 11,000 in 2011; an increase of 366%, and during the same period, sightings Grevy’s zebra rose from less than 250 to over 2000.
In May 2015, the Kenya Wildlife Service, NRT and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy partnered to move 20 black rhino into the new Sera Rhino Sanctuary. The move saw the critically endangered animal reintroduced to Samburu ranges 25 years since the last individual was poached in the area. The rhino were translocated from Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks, as well as Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The Sanctuary demonstrates the Government of Kenya’s confidence in the local community, and materialises the promise to support community-based conservation initiatives as provided for by the new Wildlife Act, 2013. Read the Phase 1 Report here.
The mobile anti-poaching squad, known as 9-1, will play a huge part in supporting the efforts of the Sera Rhino Sanctuary Rangers. Sera, Biliqo Belesa, Namunyak and Melako make up the territory covered by 9.1, a team of 12 members who represent all the communities in the conservancies they cover. Funded by NRT, the squad was trained by an ex British Army officer in conflict and combat management and advanced first aid, and are all armed. They work closely with the 33 local rangers in Sera; who are hugely supported by Zoos South Australia with funding for field equipment, training and operations.
To ensure the balance is kept between livestock grazing and wildlife grazing, vegetation surveys have been carried out in Sera that measure the impact of livestock on the grasslands. A management plan will then be drafted and endorsed, and a joint security program between the Sera Conservancy Trust, Rendille and Borana communities will be established.
Guests wishing to visit Sera Community Conservancy and participate in rhino tracking currently have two options for accommodation:
For more information about camping in Sera call NRT's tourism hotline on +254 (0) 701 295 357 or visit thebignorth.org
Luxury Banda Lodge Accommodation – ‘Saruni Rhino’
In February 2017, Saruni was proud to expand its luxury collection of lodges and tented camps with the opening of ‘Saruni Rhino’ in Sera Community Conservancy (previously the ‘Kauro Bandas’). The intimate 2-banda camp, in partnership with Sera Conservancy, offers the first rhino tracking experience in East Africa, an amazing experience that provides a uniquely thrilling experience, but also allows guests to actively contribute to the protection of this iconic species.
Comprised of two elegant ‘bandas’ (open stone cottages) sleeping 4-6 initially (a 3rd banda for 4 people is due to open by end of 2017) and a main ‘mess’ cottage for dining and relaxing, Saruni Rhino is nestled amidst swaying doum palms dotted along a dry river bed (the Kauro ‘lugga’, in the heart of the conservancy) with sweeping views of a nearby waterhole and dramatic landscape so typical of the north.
The waterhole is a popular watering stop-off for a diverse range of wildlife: elephant, impala, birdlife, hyena, oryx, Grevy’s zebra and much more, making it great ‘bush TV’ from the comfort of your cottage’s sandy verandah at any time. The dry river bed proves the quintessential torch-lit bush dinner location under the vast African skies. Whilst staying at Saruni Rhino is an experience in itself; echoing the origins of safari – exploring remote areas of a yet largely undiscovered terrain, the main draw to the area is the reason for our camp’s name sake – the Rhino.
To book the banda accommodation at Saruni Rhino, please contact email@example.com, call tel: +254 (0)202 180 497 / +254 (0)735 950 903.
For more information, please visit www.sarunirhinotracking.com.
With assistance from NRT and partner organisations, Sera aims to achieve the following in the coming years:
- Implement a conservancy constitution, with the aim of building accountability, transparency, equity and effective representation in Sera
- Support tourism development within the conservation area, through the creation of a more permanent tourism facility, as well as the drafting of a tourism plan
- Draft, endorse and enforce community grazing bylaws in the conservation area
- To sign a partnership memorandum of understanding, along with all other community conservancies, between themselves and NRT
- 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 take part in peace building exercises with surrounding communities