Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club (MKSC) and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC) in conjunction with Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club have announced the successful reintroduction of reticulated giraffes back to Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy after 40 years of local extinction. The six giraffes (2 males and 4 females) were captured from Lolomarik Ranch and translocated into the wild at Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. With a strong focus on supporting community conservation, education and empowerment programs, sustainable natural resource management initiatives are being put in place by MKWC and the famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club to build a circular economy on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The reticulated giraffe is one of the four species of giraffe. Kenya has three out of four species of giraffe; the Masai, Reticulated, and the Northern (Rothschild/Nubian Giraffe).
The giraffe numbers have been declining throughout Africa, and the global population has declined by 30%. Currently, there are about 117,000 giraffes around the world. In the last 3 decades, Kenya was home to more than 71,000 Masai giraffes, and this number has declined to 45,400. Similarly, and more concerning, is that reticulated giraffe numbers in Kenya have declined by almost 50% in the last 35 years from 36,000 to 16,000. These declines are largely driven by human factors particularly loss of habitat due to human development enterprises and land use conversion.
The giraffe used to inhabit the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy until 1984. Their ‘homecoming’ is a good gesture of the conservation strides that MKWC is making in restoring the beauty of the area, and providing an opportunity for conservation education among the visiting students and guests.
Giraffes are the tallest land mammal and are very conspicuous. Their height advantage means that they can utilise part of the plant matters beyond the reach of other wildlife. This means they also act as seed dispersal agents and pollinators as they feed.
As part of this innovative circular economy project, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, the only residence located on the Conservancy, allows guests from around the world to witness the beauty of the mountain, its forests, extraordinary glades and wildlife, whilst supporting the Conservancy in its development. Guests will now be able to observe the giraffes evolving in their lush, natural habitat, situated only a few metres from the hotel, either on foot, by bike, or on horseback.
Planting trees is one such way that guests can show their support for the Conservancy. Each year, a mature tree produces enough oxygen for 10 people. Trees contribute to reducing the greenhouse effect by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen, whilst also providing habitat and food for the giraffes. Guests are encouraged to plant as many trees as will equal their carbon footprint, an activity the hotel will organise in the conservancy, together with the local community and with tree saplings bought from the Community Forest Association. Through this partnership with local communities, to date MKWC has involved 3,000 community members in planting over 35,000 indigenous trees of a variety of species in Mount Kenya Forest.
Separately, guests who stay at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, whether they come for a retreat, wildlife tracking, mountain climbing, team building, conventions or events, will all be able to contribute to the Conservancy’s conservation efforts, as all fees are reverted to MKWC.
Visiting Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari club is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This retreat, with its connection to wildlife, was born in the 1960s as the dream of Hollywood celebrity, William Holden. The extraordinary countryside manor and its lush, manicured park is home to more than a hundred of species, including elephants, buffalos, endangered bongos, birds, gazelles, and warthogs.
Located and developed by MKWC, The Animal Orphanage is another key asset for wildlife conservation activities. The Animal Orphanage takes care of orphaned, abandoned and injured wildlife, with the aim of releasing them back into their natural habitat once they are back to optimal health and fully recovered. In May 2023, the conservancy welcomed two lioness cubs and benefited from the expert care of a dedicated team of animal keepers and wildlife veterinarians. A striped hyena, buffalo calf, bushbuck and other species have also recently been taken to the orphanage to benefit from the care of the experts on site.
Dr Robert Aruho, Head of Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, says: “Reintroducing the reticulated giraffe after 40 years of absence at the Conservancy is an important step towards restoration of the ecosystem of Mount Kenya for future generations. We are aiming at rekindling the giraffe conservation through community conservation education as well as to benefit local communities through opportunities that conservation of such flagship species brings. This giraffe introduction and various innovative projects we have in the pipeline depend on the continued generosity of donors and from guests of the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. Without this, we simply cannot continue our vital work. We urge not just Kenyan citizens, but also travellers and nature lovers – indeed, anyone who appreciates the lasting positive impact for both mankind and the natural world – to support us in our ongoing conservation efforts.”
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club – Known as a historic Kenyan manor that housed the private club and hunting lodge for Hollywood actor William Holden. The property has, over the years, welcomed international celebrities and key opinion leaders of the world. Today, the hotel constitutes a large manor, and the rooms have amazing views over the peaks of Mount Kenya (the 2nd highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro) while a variety of cottages face the lush greenery of the golf course or the indigenous forest. In a shift of principles, it has been designated to push dedication in conservation efforts – in particular, the breeding and rewilding of endangered mountain bongo in their natural habitat, the forests of Mount Kenya.
Veronique Delattre, General Manager of MKSC, comments: “Sitting within the conservancy makes us part of the conservancy’s mission. We are delighted to contribute, with the involvement of our guests. Together with the conservancy, we are working on a long-term view, where the circular economy is key not only to supporting the conservancy’s incentives, such as the Animal Orphanage, but also to inspire our guests and future generations.”
Guests to the luxury property pay a conservation fee that goes towards supporting the protection and preservation of the ecosystem and wildlife on the slopes of Mount Kenya; in particular, a breeding and rewilding programme for the critically endangered mountain bongo, reforestation initiatives and re-opening direct access from the property to Mount Kenya National Reserve to allow safe passage for animals such as elephants. MKSC, through the work of the conservancy, protects the ecosystem and ensures both guests and local communities can experience the beauty of the landscape and live in balance with wildlife.
A magical experience is available to guests and visitors of MKWC, by paying a visit to the paddocks and observing the mountain bongos as they interact with each other within their natural surroundings. Not to be missed is an elephant and bongo tracking experience in the heart of the Sanctuary with a conservationist to spot this magnificent, endangered antelope. Guests are also encouraged to leave a mark by planting trees which contribute to restoring the habitat of the mountain bongo as well as the various other species that call the conservancy home.