Located in northern Kenya it is a wildlife sanctuary incorporating the Ngare Ndare Forest and covering over 62,000 acres (250 km2). The Conservancy is home to a wide variety of wildlife including the rare and endangered black rhinos, Grevy’s zebras and sitatungas. It also includes the big five (lion, leopards, elephants, rhinos and Cape buffaloes). Lewa holds over 12% of Kenya’s eastern black rhinoceros population and the largest single population of Grevy’s zebras in the world (approximately 350 individuals).
The Conservancy is also home to the Northern Rangelands Trust, an innovative partnership with a number of communities to the north who have given land for the preservation of wildlife. Lewa has its own education program that helps develop schools and students. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is located in Meru County, south of Isiolo town but north of Mount Kenya.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is relatively close to historically volatile areas of northern Kenya, where banditry, poaching and illegal firearms were once prolific. The threat to Lewa’s wildlife and, in particular, its rhinos is ever present, although with improved security throughout northern Kenya and increasingly good relations with its neighbours, the situation has improved in recent years. The rhinoceros population requires constant monitoring and protection due to their threatened status, continued pressure and the recent occurrence of rhino poaching elsewhere in the country.
To provide a high level of protection for the wildlife, especially the endangered wildlife, as well as the people on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, it is essential to have an extremely effective security system. Lewa’s security operation includes a well-trained and highly motivated ranger force, both armed and unarmed; a tracker dog team; and reliable communications network with its neighbours, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), local government agencies, community conservancies affiliated to the Northern Rangelands Trust and private wildlife conservation projects and conservancies in the area. Regular aerial surveillance is carried out and the boundary electric game fence is maintained.
Neighboring communities, and other organisations frequently request Lewa’s assistance with support and follow-up to incidents such as poaching, cattle rustling, robbery and banditry. Lewa’s internal security operations have a good record: only two rhinos have been lost to poaching on the Conservancy (Ntoiye and Tana, were shot on 26 December 2009; Tana survived until 5 March 2010). Lewa was the only wildlife sanctuary in Kenya not to have lost a rhino to poachers in 2014. Lewa’s anti-poaching teams have been deployed to other rhino sanctuaries following serious levels of rhino poaching and have effectively reduced rhino poaching as a result. In 2015 Edward Ndiritu, employed at Lewa as head of the Anti-Poaching Unit and the Northern Rangeland Trust, received the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award from Prince William.