The first ever wildlife conservancy managed by a learning institution in Kenya has been launched in Nyeri.
Kimathi University College of Technology, a constituent of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), has opened Kimathi Wildlife Conservancy to the public.
The facility is targeted at nature lovers, conservationists, researchers, sport tourists, agro-tourists, and bird watchers.
The conservancy is part of training facilities for university students and will be managed by the university's Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
"The conservancy will cater for the needs of students since it will help them to understand nature and biodiversity," said Prof Ndirangu Kioni, the institution's principal.
The Central Province director of tourism, Mr Abdullahi Omollo, said the facility would boost tourism in the region. "The conservancy is ideal for families and researchers and will help in diversifying the tourism product," said Mr Omollo.
Nature trails for guided tours, a campsite, cultural interpretation displays and services, a curio shop, wildlife viewing platforms, and horse riding will be introduced in the conservancy.
Entry charges are Sh300 for adults and Sh150 for children for a two hour walk. The 140-acre conservancy is part of the greater indigenous Kabirurini Forest. "Opening of the conservancy has been a long process that has taken us three to four years," said Prof Kioni.
The university has used more than Sh20 million to set up the facility. Prof Kioni attributed success of the project to the input of other stakeholders.
"The translocation of animals, for example, was done with the help of the Kenya Wildlife Service," he said.
Several wildlife species including zebras, Thompson's gazelles, wildebeests, warthogs, water bucks, bush bucks, and reed bucks have been translocated to the conservancy.
Work that went into setting up the facility includes building a Sh10 million electric fence, and construction of murram roads.
According to Mr Aggrey Maumo, the KWS assistant director for the mountain area, the conservancy raises the number of such facilities in the region to 50.
The region has the highest number of conservancies, 19 are owned by communities and 31 are private. Kimathi University is expected to use the conservancy to boost revenue generation.