Thursday, August 24, 2017
Inside one of the cottages where oil lamps for lighting are used instead of electricity

Inside one of the cottages where oil lamps for lighting are used instead of electricity

Biodiversity plays a key role in promoting tourism in Kenya. The tourism sector generates a lot of revenue to the Kenyan government and for biodiversity to be maintained or increased, tourism revenue has to be well managed.

Kenya will be joining the international community to celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity on Monday 22nd May, 2017. This year’s theme is ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’. The theme was chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

A sign post to the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy on the Naivasha-Nakuru road

A sign post to the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy on the Naivasha-Nakuru road

It recognizes the importance of sustainable tourism and how it helps achieve both economic growth and sustainable use of biodiversity. The UN established and uses the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness on biodiversity issues.

The contribution of tourism to conservation is increasingly recognized by the international community. The convention on Biodiversity provided for guidelines on biodiversity and tourism development to combine biodiversity conservation with sustainable tourism development. Biodiversity underpins human development by impacting natural processes, thereby affecting human life in different ways.

In Kenya, there are some parks and conservancies that practice sustainable tourism as well as conserve their biodiversity. For example, the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy located near Gilgil town in the Great Rift Valley. The local community owns and operates it. It started in 1997 with the aim of providing a wildlife sanctuary and a sustainable eco-tourism destination. Some of the practices carried out that promote sustainability are; the cottages used for accommodation at Kigio are made using local and reclaimed materials, furniture is built from timber that has been reclaimed from the ground, oil lamps are used instead of electricity.

One of the cottages that is used for accommodation at the conservancy made of locally reclaimed materials and its furniture made from reclaimed timber from the ground

One of the cottages that is used for accommodation at the conservancy made of locally reclaimed materials and its furniture made from reclaimed timber from the ground

Other activities carried out at Kigio that are in line with this year’s theme include partnerships with local communities by funding community projects, employing local people as guides, taking care of orphaned wildlife as part of conservation activities. Kigio has managed to conserve diverse habitats which include short grass, the Leleshwa shrub and euphorbia woodlands. It has so far protected about 100 indigenous plant species.

The conservancy has over 300 bird species including the world’s largest population of grey-crested helmetshrikes. Some of the animals that graze at Kigio include waterbuck, African buffalo, spotted hyena, spring hare, aardvark, African leopard, impala, aardwolf, honey badger and hippopotamus among others. Rothschild’s giraffe which is an endangered species is also found here.

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