By Thorn Mulli
Last month, Vipingo Ridge became home to four new species of animals-impala, eland, oryx and water buck -as part of the project to create a wildlife sanctuary on its 2, 500-acre estate.
Ten years after the project was first conceived, and in conjunction with Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), and Lafarge, the introduction of wildlife has begun in phases with more impala, zebra and giraffe being relocated to the site from similar climatic areas in the coming weeks. The vision for the sanctuary is a sustainable and thriving ecosystem with Kenya’s wild herbivores roaming free and adding to the spectacular experience on the ridge.
Seven specially trained rangers are now on site to monitor and protect the animals, ensuring there is a positive symbiosis between them, the environment and Vipingo Ridge’s members and guests. The new four-legged residents are able to walk and graze the fairways of the championship PGA Baobab Course offering players a unique golf safari in view of the Indian Ocean. Sanctuary projects such as this across the country are supported by KWS and conservationists who continue to search for human-wildlife conflict solutions. As more and more land is developed to create space for increasing populations of people, there is a growing need to create safe zones where animals can live and breed in the wild rather than face their demise in urbanised areas.
In preparation for the arrival of the wildlife at Vipingo Ridge, areas of scrub land were cleared and new grass and trees planted. As well as the reservoir and Chodari dam, purpose-built watering holes are available for the animals to drink at and the abundance of vegetation throughout the estate means there is also plenty to eat.
The first phase of the wildlife introduction has proven a great success with the animals bonding quickly with the rangers and settling in well. Phase Two is set to commence at the end of November. Chairman Alastair Cavenagh commented,
“We are delighted at this development which will add greatly to the many attractions that Vipingo Ridge has to offer. We are so appreciative of the guidance and passion of the KWS employees who have been helping to make our vision a reality. It is already an incredible sight to see eland and water buck wander past your veranda or seeing impala jumping across the golf course. There has been a real buzz among the community here with our residents sharing photographs of the animals around the ridge and providing hugely positive feedback. We look forward to sharing the excitement with holiday guests and golfers too.”
Project Manager and Head Ranger Abdulla Kuso added, “This is a very unique project to be involved in and we are so happy to see the animals settling in well. It is impressive to see how much vegetation there is here –a lot of indigenous grasses and plenty of choice for the wildlife to eat. We look forward to more species being introduced soon and creating a beautiful place where healthy animals roam and begin to breed.”