The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (also known as Lewa Downs) is located in northern Kenya. It was formed in 1995. It is a wildlife sanctuary incorporating the Ngare Ndare Forest and covering over 62,000 acres (250 km2). Lewa hosts an abundance of endangered flora and fauna. It has been home to the Craig family since 1924 who by initially setting aside 5000 acres of their ranch in 1983, were instrumental in setting up a sanctuary to protect black rhinos. Fortunately, this was so successful that in 1995 they dedicated their entire ranch to conservation and it now homes over 10% of Kenya’s entire black rhino population and 14% of their white rhino population, making it the perfect choice for your next safari if you want to catch the big 5, namely rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo all of which make their home at Lewa.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is located south of Isiolo town and North of Mount Kenya. The snow-capped peaks dominate the views to the south, where the southern boundary rises to an altitude of some 6500ft above sea level and to the north, the terrain drops away with breathtaking views of Samburu, Ololokwe and the Mathews’ range beyond.
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 neighbors, 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.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in addition to The Big Five, is also a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife. It supports a myriad of plains game species all perfectly adapted for the semi desert environment and Grevy’s Zebra and the Reticulated Giraffe are common. Additionally, the lance-like horned Beisa Oryx and the rare Greater Kudu are seasonal visitors and the Guenther’s Dikdik, the giraffe-necked Gerenuk and the beautiful blue-legged Somali Ostrich are resident all year round.
The swamp has become a sanctuary in itself for the rare and fascinating semi-aquatic Sitatunga Antelope and its primary predator, the Leopard. Birdlife is equally rich with numerous species of Bustard, Plover, Coursers and birds of prey. At night, leopards are frequently encountered along with bush-babies, aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, caracal and various mongooses, genets and civets – given all this a few days in Lewa will give you a unique combination of hospitality, spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.
Aside from game drives, Lewa also offers a walk in the wild accompanied by local armed guides. This makes the wildlife experience a little more intimate and enjoyable. Many times, you will enjoy this experience as you watch the Maasai morans also graze their cattle as the elephants, antelopes and zebras graze alongside a resting lion! Lewa Conservancy also takes social responsibility to neighboring communities very serious. If you like, you could get a chance to visit the different development projects Lewa runs.