LEWA DOWNS MAKES IT INTO THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST
(Posted 16th July 2013)
The Mount Kenya World Heritage Site was recently expanded to include two additional conservation areas, namely Lewa Downs and the Ngare Ndare Forest. Lewa Downs, once upon a time a conventional cattle ranch owned and operated by the Craig family, has over the years turned itself into a pioneer of privately owned conservancies, setting the trend many others followed over the years.
UNESCO’s recognition therefore is as much a natural progression to expand the existing Mount Kenya WHS and incorporate some of the adjoining migration routes of elephant and other game, as it is a very public statement towards the massive conservation efforts undertaken by Lewa Downs over the past decades.
When the transformation of Lewa started only about 5.000 acres were set aside to introduce rhinos and give them a conducive breeding environment, but today the entire estate of more than 60.000 acres has been turned into a conservation zone. Lewa today is home to both the Eastern Black and the Southern White rhinos but also provides a habitat for at least another 70 mammals and over 440 bird species, some of them endemic.
Notably has acclaimed safari camp operator Cheli & Peacock some years ago taken over the camp at Lewa Downs, befittingly named the Lewa Safari Camp, which has since then gained EcoTourism Kenya’s Silver Level Award and been recognized by the Good Safari Guide as ‘Best Community Safari Property in Africa’ during the last award ceremony. Lewa’s CEO Mike Watson was thrilled about the news of the conservancy being made part of a World Heritage Site and in a media release said: ‘I wish to congratulate all Lewa staff for enabling the Conservancy to achieve this extraordinary position in the global conservation world. It is truly a testament to all who have worked on Lewa over the years and built it into what it is today. Everyone at Lewa should take great pride in this designation and recognise that this cements the conservancy in the position it so rightly deserves as a global model for protected area management and as a catalyst for conservation’.