01.01. - 31.12.2023
A day or two at Soysambu conservancy
There is a place in Africa where the wound of a great rupture promises abundant life in its healing. It is a place of brooding mountains, of Great Plains and whispering lakes - a place that attracts a diversity of life to its wonders - and it was once believed to be the birthplace of consciousness in mankind. Eight lakes make up the Kenya Rift Valley Lake system, two of which are freshwater and the rest alkaline. The large flocks of flamingoes for which the Kenyan lakes have become famous are found on the alkaline soda lakes feeding on tiny crustaceans. One Lake is Elementaita
Soysambu is a Wildlife Conservancy on Lake Elmenteita in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. It is the only area of open land left in this part of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley where the wildlife have come to take refuge from expanding human development. The soil is fragile and can only sustain grasses which provide food for the wild animals and cattle. Once an area successfully utilized only for livestock and hay cultivation, it now has around 12,000 wildlife competing for the same resources.
Lake Elementeita which Soysambu borders on three sides was inscribed as the “Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley” World Heritage Site in 2011 and the lake now hosts the only breeding colony of Great White Pelican in East Africa. Many populations of Lesser and Greater flamingo also occupy the lake. It is a birders paradise. You can’t imagine how important this is to the whole string of Rift Valley Lakes! Endangered Rothschild’s giraffe are happily reproducing here along with the Colobus monkeys, cape buffalo, eland, gazelles, impala and just about everything else. The acacia woodlands, the euphorbia stands, the Leleshwa bush all add up to areas in need of forestry preservation when everything around us is getting flattened…
To preserve this amazing array of flora and fauna and operate in a sustainable way utilizing all the resources available and to help the surrounding communities benefit from their wildlife heritage by developing programmes for poverty reduction and education have been the reason to build a Conservancy.
Join us for ecological monitoring at the conservancy.
Learn about the Field Study and Research Department providing timely and relevant information that helps make decisions regarding wildlife. Continuous research and monitoring of key species ensures informed decisions on habitats and wildlife species are made to secure habitats and conserve the environment at Soysambu.
The Rothschild’s Giraffe are part of a recent genetic study by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and are now considered the Nubian Giraffe G. c. camelopardalis a subspecies of the Northern Giraffe. Soysambu currently hosts a population of approximately 140 giraffe. As of February 2021, we have identified 57 males, 56 females and 27 juveniles.
You can join the field study for a day. How this will be done, you can read here: https://soysambuconservancy.org/giraffe/
For the lion collaring project to work and enough data is collected, some of the lion population need to have collars deployed on one lion in each group. Research has shown that the lions don’t mind the collars and they are unaware that they are being tracked. You can join the team tracking lions. Learn more here: https://soysambuconservancy.org/lion/
You are also invited while your visit at Soysambu to record you spotted hyena sightings. https://soysambuconservancy.org/hyena/
Other projects include leopards, primates and birds.
If you want to spend another day at Soysambu, you can learn about farming and life stock in Kenya.
For the past 111 years, there have been various livestock enterprises tried on Soysambu. In the 1900’s, sheep were dominant with small forays into Ostrich farming, which failed dismally in 1908 and 1923. By the 1930’s, Cattle were reared in great numbers allowing the ranch to benefit from the second world war by providing lots of beef to feed the soldiers
By the 1970’s, Soysambu was a highly developed and very productive cattle ranch. It was fully paddocked with an extensive fencing and water supply system. Wildlife was seen as an aesthetically appealing nuisance, providing grazing and disease competition for cattle. Over the next two decades, subdivision of all the neighbouring ranches and rampant poaching caused herds of zebra to take up permanent residence on Soysambu and overall game numbers to increase. This resulted in all internal fences being lost (it is not possible to maintain normal ranch fencing in the presence of large zebra populations) and the livestock management system becoming similar to that used by the Maasai – cattle were now herded to grazing during the day and kept in night enclosures, or “bomas” at night.
While burgeoning wildlife populations caused the cattle ranching activity to become less productive, it forced management to find innovative ways of accommodating wildlife. For example, pipelines now had to be buried and night guards posted on “bomas”. Over time, in response to increasing demand for wildlife tourism, management began to see wildlife as an asset to be utilized.
Today, the ranching operations cover most of the land and provide 85% of the income. The ranch has a population of 8,700 cows, 2,000 sheep and 1,200 goats. The cows are Borans with a few Boran/Friesian Crosses. Borans are reared for beef only and sold to butchers who sell locally or export. Heifers for crosses are sold to daily farmers in semi-arid areas.
You can join branding of cows, counting them on bomas or witness the birth of a new cow.
Beside the conservation activities you can do game drives, birding, camel trekking, horse riding and motorcycle safaris.