Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary
The elephant sanctuary which neighbors the Shimba hills national reserve was established in the early 1990s to provide a migratory corridor for elephants coming from the drier Tsavo East National Park to the Shimba Hills National Reserve. Elephants use this migratory passageway to access important foliage areas within their natural domain at different times of the year.
The conservation area was formed in an agreement between the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, the local community and organizations such as the Born Free Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development and Eden Wildlife Trust. The formation of this community-owned conservancy park managed by members of the local community was in a bid to mitigate the escalating human – elephant conflict. In the model, income generated from the sanctuary would facilitate yearly compensation payments to members of the local community who leased out their farming lands to the sanctuary. The model worked quite well and an investor even built the Travellers Mwaluganje camp, a tented camp that caters to tourists wishing to spend the night at the park in an agreement that would see the investor maintain the infrastructure around and inside the sanctuary. The camp is set along the shoulder of a low hill facing a traditional elephant trail, allowing guests to watch the elephants from the comfort of their well-appointed luxury tents. The camp has a small bar/restaurant/viewing area overlooking a watering hole giving very good close ups of the elephants that come to drink.
The conservation area is important as it supports threatened lowland coastal forest which contains a rich diversity of flora and fauna including several rare and endemic species. It serves as one of only 3 coastal refuges for elephants in Kenya and is an important water catchment area for wildlife and the local communities.