The Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s (LWF) new Centre in Nanyuki was officially opened on 11 April 2015. Built with the support of The Kingdom of the Netherlands and USAID – Kenya Mission, the Centre carries on work that began over 20 years ago.
Over 150 members, government officials, supporters and well-wishers attended the opening ceremony, which also showcased LWF’s efforts in water resource management and conservation. Guests included Marielle Geraedts – Head of Development Cooperation from the Embassy of Netherlands; Beatrice Wamalwa – Deputy Program Director USAID’s Kenya Mission,ENRM Office; H.E. Joshua Irungu – Laikipia Governor and Hon. G.G Kariuki – Laikipia Senator. The day included an animated compelling performance by 3 students from Brickwoods Primary School who emphasised the need for us all to work together in order to ensure that the environment, and wildlife resource, is conserved for future generations.
During his opening remarks, founder member, Mr. Gilfrid Powys took guests through 23 years of history and the origins of the Forum. Inspiration was taken from other conservation and land use models which capitalised on an important partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Laikipia lies on a high-altitude plateau and is nestled between the Rift Valley, Aberdare Range, and Mt. Kenya. Livelihoods and wildlife are dependent on the greater Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem and herein lies many of LWF’s conservation activities. As a dynamic, membership-led, conservation organisation, LWF provides a platform for dialogue for a cross-section of land owners and land users including local community groups, private ranchers, pastoralists, small-scale farmers and tourism ventures.
Communities in Laikipia play a vital role in conservation, a point that H.E. Joshua Irungu emphasised as he addressed the gathering. He encouraged the key stakeholders present to work closely with the various fencing efforts to prevent human – wildlife conflicts. He also implored members to work closely with the KWS and applauded the appointment of LWF’s Community Liaison Officer – Virginia Wahome as the new chairperson for the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee (CWCCC).
H.E. Irungu’s sentiments reflected the direction LWF – a vital player in Laikipia natural resources conservation, has embarked on. The organisation’s makeover and new strategic plan (2016-2020) will be a guide in dealing with a challenging environment.
Working closely with the newly-devolved Laikipia County Government will be key in maximising the impacts of natural resources. LWF has also forged important partnerships with private land owners and communities to develop solutions to address persistent challenges facing water, forests, energy, pasture and wildlife management. Laikipia is one of the few places in the world where numerous protected species roam free on private and trust lands – often coming into contact with local community members.
LWF will continue to work with key agencies such as KWS, WRMA and the judiciary in ensuring the Laikipia’s natural resources are conserved through advocacy and governance as well as the formation of platforms for discourse.
Since LWF’s inception in 1992 there has been a significant expansion of localised conservation efforts and expertise in relation to wild animals. While wildlife remains central to the conservation effort, LWF has taken an increasingly holistic approach with emphasis on cross-cutting environmental issues that affect larger sections of the human and wildlife population.
LWF’s Members’ subscription to the Forum is a vital vehicle in the realisation of the goals and aspirations of smallholders, community groups, conservancies and large landowners focusing on integrated natural resources management and biodiversity conservation. We serve youth groups and schools in an effort to inform future generations about the values of sustainable land use and management.
LWF’s Chairman of the Board, Maj. Gen (Rtd) Peter Waweru, concluded the ceremony quite eloquently, stating: “in conservation matters there will always be disparities, however it is up to the stakeholders to take decisive measures for the good of all”.