We are sitting on the porch at Tawi Lodge in the Kilimanjaro Heartland. Mt. Kilimanjaro is smack dab in front of us. The view is brilliant as the mountain stands with magnificent enormity. Tawi Lodge sits right in the middle of Kilitome Conservancy, a conservancy created by AWF and 100 Maasai landowners. Tawi is a luxury eco-camp opened in 2010. It is a lovely, peaceful spot in the dryland, acacia woodlands.
AWF and Tawi signed lease agreements with the landowners over two years ago. These lease agreements secure the land for wildlife movement while providing income to the community. Now that Tawi is open, and up and running, they are taking over the payment of the conservation lease. From our private veranda we watch a large bull elephant spray himself with water and cover himself with mud. His tusks are enormous and the right one broke, a sign of age. The notches in his ear is another testament to his age. I have been visiting this area for years and it is incredibly rewarding to see the wildlife and vegetation recovery.
A grey heron flies overhead as the sun sets and zebra move through the tall grass. On our drive into the lodge, through the conservancy, we saw giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, impala and more. In the morning, we went with the local guide on a walk through the bush, which is a great way to see the area and always so exciting to see wildlife on foot. The highlight of the morning walk was a pygmy falcon, Africa’s smallest bird of prey.
The Conservancy abuts Amboseli National Park; therefore, it is a key disposal area. AWF continues to work with the adjacent community areas to link Amboseli to the Chyulu, and Tsavo National Parks. Bit by bit, AWF and partners are trying to piece it together. But for now if you are coming to Kenya do come and visit Tawi, it’s nice to know that your money is going to the right place; with each stay money goes to the conservancy and the land owners. The only problem with places like Tawi is that the accommodation is so nice you just want to stay there. But given the wildlife we are seeing from the comfort of our porch, that’s not a problem.
Kathleen Fitzgerald is AWF's Vice President, Programs East and Southern Africa. She works closely with staff to design and direct land and habitat conservation projects across the continent, including establishing community conservancies, securing wildlife corridors, and improving management of protected areas and community lands.
AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.
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