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Celebrating 20 years: Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and MKWC’s ongoing commitment to conservation and community empowerment

Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy

Following the successful conservation efforts that secured the increase of mountain bongos through the breeding and rewilding program, the celebration kicks off with additional Conservancy efforts partnered with the launch of new hotel activities.

NANYUKI – Nested within the private Conservancy, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club has been supporting the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC) over the last few years, aiming to restore the fauna and flora at the slopes of the highest peak in Kenya. Celebrating the 20th anniversary, both the hotel and Conservancy announce a set of activities with the final objective of accelerating the circular economy approach in the destination.

The kick-off to the celebrations will include the official bongo release on the 7th of May followed by the import of new species within the Conservancy a month later. The events will also highlight partnerships with Kenyan artists, the annual Trek for the Bongo scheduled for September which allows hikers and community members from across the globe to summit Mount Kenya, as well as an exceptional fundraising gala dinner in November.

Veronique Delattre, the General Manager of Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club comments: “Since the establishment of Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, the hotel’s mission has been to protect and restore the slopes of Mount Kenya, its communities, wildlife, flora, and culture, within the circular economy philosophy. I am proud to share the achievements and our commitment to the future”.

The Conservancy’s pioneering work dates back to 1964, when the Government of Kenya expressed growing concern for the dwindling Mountain Bongo population in Mount Kenya and Aberdares, as the number left in the wild in Kenya had fallen to less than 100 at the time. Over the years, the Bongo project has evolved:

  • In 2004, within the Bongo Repatriation Project, 18 mountain antelopes were introduced to the Conservancy’s program of breeding and rewilding, after being acquired from several zoos across North America in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service.
  • In 2022, the Conservancy opened the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary and announced the release of 10 mountain bongos.
  • In 2024, Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy saw the birth of the fourth generation of bongos, and together with the hotel, the goal is to grow the population to 750 over the next 50 years.

Beyond the bongo breeding and rewilding program, which requires great financial efforts and human resources, the Conservancy is dedicating its resources to the protection and restoration of all Mount Kenya’s wildlife and flora. For example, the Conservancy re-introduced reticulate giraffes after 40 years of absence from the Conservancy.

In addition, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy efforts go also towards the protection of the culture and communities’ empowerment, which are crucial to the circular economy approach. From education to preservation, and training to hospitality and supply of farming products, fabrics, giveaways as well as services, the hotel and the Conservancy offer hundreds of opportunities to grow and repay micro-economies. Part of the protection of the landmark hotel is the refurbishment of the heritage property to make it a must-visit place in Kenya and introduce eco-tourists to Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy.

With the support of Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, the African culture is showcased and celebrated through a set of activities related to traditions such as watching the Kikuyu dancers – a group of locals who ensure the transmission of traditional dances who come regularly at the hotel to perform – sing and explain their legends in front of guests.

The guests play a significant part in the circular economy through the Conservancy fee paid during the stay, or with different donations such as the adoption of rescued animals or baby bongos. Moreover, guests are also invited to plant one or several trees and support the reforestation process.

Veronique Delattre adds: “Among the eco-safari and culture discovery experiences, our “Leave a Mark” program allows our discerning guests to take conscious action, by planting a tree or adopting an animal from our orphanage. It’s by leaving a mark together: naturalists, communities, guests, hospitality professionals, and governmental institutions, that we will succeed”.

A few other significant steps marked by the Conservancy and hotel are:

  • Over 30% of financial support received by the Conservancy comes directly from the guests, playing a key role in both the bongo program and the animal orphanage: home to 29 species of animals including one of Kenya’s most threatened primates – the rare Patas monkey.
  • The successful reintroduction of six reticulated giraffes, back in October 2023, within Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy after years of local extinction.
  • The plantation of over 40,000 indigenous trees has enhanced the forest cover in the area and forms part of the habitat for the fully rewilded Mountain Bongos.
  • The hotel employs in every department a minimum of one staff member from the local community.
  • The partnership (MoU) signed with the Kenya Space Agency (KSA) in December 2023 demonstrates the trust between the two entities and aims to apply innovation and geospatial technology to enhance wildlife monitoring and habitat conservation, setting a new standard in wildlife management and ecological research.
  • The Community Conservation Education program: created and integrated lessons focusing on the Mountain Bongo in its curriculum for schools who visit on educational trips. Annually, MKWC hosts over 30,000 students from schools across the country and has hosted over 400,000 students in the last 20 years.
  • In January 2024, the Conservancy was included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), joining more than 1,400 member organizations from over 160 countries making a difference in the natural world and playing a pivotal role in the worldwide effort to safeguard natural heritage.

The future sees an even higher involvement of the community, together with the main ethnic groups living around Mount Kenya: Kikuyu, Ameru, Embu and Maasai. In particular, the Kikuyu tribe will proudly present their tradition through dances and the storytelling linked to the Mount Kenya legend.

Veronique Delattre concludes: “For the hotel and conservancy, the 20th anniversary marks the start of a new chapter. The community will be more involved, new plant species will be introduced and forests will be replanted, wildlife will continue to be protected, and local culture and arts will be preserved. All of this will be done with the understanding that the hotel and conservancy will work together to continue promoting a leading circular economy to restore and protect the slopes of Mount Kenya, its people, their culture, its wildlife, and its flora.”

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.