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Mwaluganje Conservancy

Location:                            Coast Conservation Area

Year of Establishment:     1995

Population:                        3,500 people

Communities:                    Digo and Duruma

Wildlife species:                Elephants, zebra, warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons, leopard, porcupine mongooses, bush babies, some birds, reptiles and invertebrates.

The Golini-Mwaluganje Community Conservation Ltd operating under the name Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary was registered as a company in 1994 and become operational in 1995. It is a northern extension of the Shimba Hills National Reserve in Kwale District, Coast Province approximately 35km south West of Mombasa and north of Kwale town, covering an area of 36km2 and is almost entirely fenced. It lies at an altitude of 440ft.a.s.l. The Golini Escarpment serves as the eastern boundary of the sanctuary. Mwaluganje Forest Reserve to the east is a plateau of approximately 30km2 and 500ft a.s.l. The average annual temperature of the area is 24.2C while the rainfall pattern is bimodal with two peaks between April and July (long rains) and November (short rains). Mean annual rainfall is 1150mm and there is presence of morning mist and fog.

Mwaluganje is a dispersal area (corridor) for elephants from Shimba National Reserve to Mwaluganje forest. Communities living adjacent to the corridor were farming in the corridor and this gave them right to the land. This resulted in crop destruction, injury and death to humans by elephants. As a conflict resolution measure, KWS through education programs proposed land-use change from farming to creation of a sanctuary. A memorandum and Articles of Association for the management of the sanctuary was developed. This required the landowners to give ‘legal rights of vacant possession of their parcels of land’ to the Corporation and agree not to dispose off their land or use it for collateral without the consent of the corporation. By 1995, two hundred families living within joined the corporation; the sanctuary was fenced, game viewing tracks established and an entry gate constructed with the assistance of KWS.

The area is important at international, national and local level. It supports threatened lowland coastal forest which contains a rich diversity of flora and fauna including several rare and endemic species.
It serves as one of only 3 coastal refuges for elephants in Kenya; it is an important water catchment area, it contains a sacred Kaya, and is sufficiently close to the coast and can therefore attract large numbers of visitors

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has in recent years been keen in involving local communities in the management of wildlife resources in their areas. It is now common knowledge that for local communities to protect their natural resources, they must obtain some benefits from these resources as a means to improving their livelihoods.

In 1997 the Mwaluganje Board of Trustees distributed about one million Kenya shillings (over $16,000) to shareholders being proceeds generated from the sanctuary’s tourism activities. Payments ranged from Kshs 60,000 to Kshs. 200,000 (about US $1000 to over $3000) to each family holding title to their donated land.

KWS is therefore keen to assist and partner with communities to identify and develop optimal land uses (those that have high conservation and livelihood values). In a bid to achieve this objective, KWS has been involved in organizing studies and exposure tours for the local communities. This has often involved taking members of the local communities to visit and learn from similar successful community based conservation initiatives elsewhere which results to the target communities seeking ways of also benefiting from wildlife through initiation of similar projects.

Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary Area
The Elephant Sanctuary, which measures 60,000 acres, was established in 1995 to create a corridor for movement of elephants between Mwaluganje Forest reserve to the north and the Shimba Hills National Reserve to the South. Elephants need this corridor in order to access important areas of their range at different times of the year. The Sanctuary also protects people from the dangers of crop raiding and potentially dangerous free-ranging elephants. In 1993 the Golini Mwaluganje Community Conservation Corporation was created with an objective to reduce human-elephant conflict and generate benefits for community members while permitting the movement of elephants through the corridor.

During the 1998 elephant census about 350-400 elephants were counted for the whole Shimba ecosystem. The 1999 elephant census registered between 400-500 elephants in the same ecosystem. Within the Mwaluganje sanctuary there are more than 100 elephants.

Apart from the sanctuary being famous for its elephants, there are plenty of other attractions including other species of wildlife like zebra, warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons, leopard, porcupine, mongooses, and bush babies and in addition to a rich diversity of birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Another attraction of the area is the diverse landscape which ranges from the dry baobab bush land to moist deciduous forest on the hills and riverain forest along the streams.

Map -Location of Mwaluganje Elephant sanctuary area

Currently KWS is working with the Board of the Sanctuary to look for an investor for the development of three (3) tourism facilities within the sanctuary as indicated below:

Type of Facility
Proposed Lease Yrs
Mwaluganje - Manolo loop site
Kwale District
Mwaluganje - Manolo lunch hut
Kwale district
Mwaluganje - campsite
Kwale District,


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