Known to be the getaway to Northern Kenya, the Laikipia plateau stretches from the slopes of Mount Kenya to the rim of the Great Rift Valley. The vast Laikipia plateau is an idyllic and lesser-visited area, a natural haven consisting of conservancies and traditional ranches. It is an important wildlife area embellished with farms and cattle ranches that supports large numbers of game.
The landscape of Laikipia plateau is one of its kind – sprawling arid plains, distant snow-peaked mountains, and beautiful hills. Moreover, the traditional old livestock ranches have been converted into luxurious safari lodges, offering the ultimate safari experience away from the bustling tourist crowd. Due to its prominent colonial history, the Laikipia plateau is a significant natural area, both from a conservation and safari perspective.
Lakipia plateau is an undiscovered ecosystem that covers a wilderness terrain of approximately two million acres. It is home to the indigenous Boran, Samburu, and the Kikuyu tribes. Laikipia plateau today represents the community and privately owned sanctuaries as well as conservationists who have strived hard to maintain and protect the biodiversity and wildlife of this region. This plateau continues to nurture exceptional cultural and wildlife diversity.
For adventure enthusiasts looking to unravel the beauty of Kenya’s wilderness, the Laikipia plateau has it all. According to your interests and preferences, there are several wildlife areas, ranches, and conservancies that can be visited. Here is everything you need to know about the incredible Laikipia plateau.
Wildlife of Laikipia plateau
As the Laikipia plateau extends from the Aberdare foothills across the huge open plains to the Northern Frontier District, many northern game species are found here in abundance. In fact, the Laikipia plateau is home to the most endangered species than anywhere else in Africa. Grevy’s zebra, the reticulated giraffe, and Jackson’s hartebeest roam the area freely. It is also the only area that has a growing population of rare wild dogs, as well as leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, and many other big game species.
However, one of the most endangered species of all, the white and black rhinos, are famously found in the Laikipia plateau around the dense acacia bush. Laikipia plateau houses the most important rhino sanctuaries in East Africa where more than half of Kenya’s black rhino population resides.
One can enjoy watching more than 2000 elephants migrating between Mount Kenya and Samburu while crossing Laikipia on the way. Among other animals, one can also spot the greater kudu, cape buffalo, impala, gazelle, eland, dik dik, klipspringer, zebra, waterbuck, and many more. The area also offers an exciting birdwatching experience as more than 500 bird species including African finfoot, Abyssinian nightjar, red-footed falcon, ostrich, and various others can be observed.
Laikipia plateau provides an exclusive safari experience where guests can enjoy the sightings of various animals through game drives, walking safaris, and other hosts of activities.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Amidst the many conservancies found in Laikipia, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is known to be a leader in conservation. It is a 90,000-acre wildlife conservancy and is set in the foothills of the snowcapped Mount Kenya. Throughout the colonial era, the area of Ol Pejeta conservancy was used as a cattle ranch. However, as the elephant population increased, cattle ranching became impossible. In 2004, Flora and Fauna International, a UK-based conservation organization purchased the reserve and transformed it into a conservancy.
Ol Pejeta is home to two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos named Fatu and Najin. More than 100 critically endangered black rhinos reside in the conservancy as well.
Along with the conservation of rhinos, Ol Pejeta is home to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary which provides a haven for abandoned, orphaned, and rescued chimpanzees. The Ol Pejeta is the sole place where one can see and observe chimpanzees in Kenya. At the sanctuary, the chimpanzees are nursed back to health and reside on a vast natural enclosure. The chimpanzees live in two large groups which are separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River.
The conservancy is noted for its healthy population of the big five game animals and other wildlife species. Lions, giraffes, leopards, elephants, cheetahs, and even the elusive wild dogs can be spotted at the conservancy. Other rare animals living in the conservancy are oryx, serval, bat-eared fox, and more. The endangered Grevy’s Zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, and the northern white rhinos live in 283-hectare Endangered Species Enclosure. Common African wildlife spotted at the conservancy include vervet monkeys, baboons, impalas, hippos, eland, silver-backed jackal, and hyena to name a few.
Ol Pejeta has incorporated cattle farming into its conservation plan wherein strategic grazing helps the wildlife while the local people also receive employment opportunities.
A trip to Ol Pejeta Conservancy guarantees a wide range of exciting activities including game drives, horse riding, and walking safaris. The conservancy only has three camps, allowing for a private and uninterrupted safari experience in Laikipia.
Along with Ol Pejeta, there are several other conservancies found in the plateau namely the Lewa Conservancy, Borana Wildfire Conservancy, and the Ol Lentille Conservancy.
According to the IUCN list, the Black Rhino is ‘critically endangered’ while the White Rhino species is ‘nearly threatened’. All over Africa, poaching and habitat loss is depleting the rhino population. As the rhino horn is erroneously believed to hold medicinal properties in Asia as well as used for traditional daggers in Yemen, the trade in rhino horn puts these animals in critical danger.
To secure the population of rhino, The Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lewa Conservancy have introduced a number of anti-poaching and security measures. These include:
- a tracker dog team consisting of trained bloodhounds,
- aircraft operation that is used for security surveillance, game counts and rhino monitoring across the conservancy,
- drones that provide thermal imaging feeds and real-time video,
- trained armed teams and rangers,
- rhino patrols,
- general security,
- the assistance of neighboring communities,
- fully electrified perimeter fence to prevent human-wildlife contact.
Due to its diverse species of wildlife and personalized services, a visit to Laikipia Plateau is highly recommended for a luxurious, unique, and uninterrupted safari experience in Kenya.
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