It was with great excitement that the Wilderness Collection brand was launched in May this year and rightfully so, with attractive destinations such as Botswana, Seychelles and the Congo forming a part of this portfolio.
Located in Laikipia, Segera is the other addition to the Wilderness Collection, bringing the charm of northern Kenya to the group. In a country that conjures up strong images of traditional East African safaris and the spectacle of the great annual zebra and wildebeest migration, a visit to the Laikipia district guarantees a unique experience filled with the vibrant colours of culture, wildlife and the serenity of a landscape found at the foothills of Mount Kenya, which in itself is a spectacular site.
Segera forms part of the much broader 56 000 square km Ewaso Ecosystem, primarily Kenya's most extensive wildlife haven after the famous Tsavo National Park. It is also interesting to note that the Ewaso elephant population (of about 7 000 animals) is, in Kenya, outnumbered only by that in Tsavo and the wildlife population densities of the region are comparable only to that of the well-known Masai Mara. With such richness in wildlife and diversity, it is not surprising that the Ewaso Ecosystem hosts the largest populations that are left of various other endangered and range-restricted mammals, including both Grevy's zebra and the reticulated giraffe. In both these species, fewer than 3 000 animals are in the wild, of which almost 40% can be found in Laikipia.
Interestingly enough, as a result of these large numbers of residing wildlife accompanied by the strong agricultural characteristics of the area, Segera is, like many other farms in the area, an example of how multiple land use principles can be applied successfully. This essentially refers to an area where wildlife conservation and tourism activities are combined with raising livestock, mainly Boran crosses (these are humped cattle that originate from Ethiopia). This will benefit the retreat tremendously through the provision of organic beef and the ability to incorporate holistic eating plans into the menu design.
Building on a Dream
For the last few months Segera has been a hive of activity. The tourism facility scheduled to open in May 2012 is currently in various phases of development and it is with great anticipation that we enter the next phase of the building project. There are different teams each looking after construction, design, maintenance and landscaping, which are sweating it out side by side, seven days a week to deliver on the very inspiring vision of its founder.
A state of the art solar farm using photovoltaic technology has been installed to supply the electrical demand for the tourism facility, and a waste water recycling process, reverse osmosis plant and 250 000-litre rainwater collection cistern will meet almost all of the day to day water requirements.
The retreat will host a maximum of 16 guests on the 20 000-hectare (49 000-acre) haven. On completion the seven two-story villas of wood and thatch (including two family suites), complimented by the owner's villa, will each be cared for by a dedicated villa attendant. Segera's location is poised to look out over not only the plains of the spectacular Laikipia Plateau but also Mount Kenya.
Currently the vegetable garden, completely organic, covers an area of approximately 95 square metres. Expansion plans are on the cards with a supplemental worm farm and a bigger scale composting heap for wet waste to create a complete closed loop system.
A pair of lions caused quite a stir lately when they were spotted mating recently. The pair was completely oblivious to the presence of the game viewers, which provided us with a great sighting. About a 100 metres behind the courting couple, another large male lay - spectating.
The Role of the Zeitz Foundation
Founded in 2008, the Zeitz Foundation is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a satellite office based at Segera and representation in the United States and the United Kingdom. Since its inception, the impact the foundation has made has been sizable, most notably through the flagship programme 'The Long Run Initiative'. Properties around the world have the opportunity to, through the Zeitz Foundation, become a part of the Long Run Destinations (LRD) by becoming a Long Run Supporter; a Long Run Alliance Member; and finally Long Run Destinations - Global Ecosphere Retreat® (GER) certified.
Closer to home, the communities in Laikipia have first-hand experience of the benefits from some of the initiatives implemented by the foundation. The first edition of the Laikipia and Beyond Unity Cup (LUC) was a major success. Visit www.zeitzfoundation.org for a closer look at this pioneering event.
At Segera itself the ZF Conservation Unit Rangers (CURs) have to date, largely been responsible for collecting and documenting most of the data that exists on wildlife monitoring and distribution. On a day to day basis they play an invaluable role in terms of patrolling the area, eradicating invasive and alien plant species and collecting debris left as a result of the farming history of Segera.
As part of a collaborative effort to maintain a fence-free wildlife habitat and an essential animal migration corridor in Central Laikipia, the African Wildlife Foundation, Mpala Research Centre and Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Segera and a few other properties joined forces to promote sustainable management of individually owned properties for the benefit of livestock and wildlife as well as local communities. What this means for the local wildlife dispersal is free access and movement across private or communal landholdings, through farms or even local community areas where people are an integral part of the landscape. A fascinating and absolutely vital phenomenon for the future survival of some species.
Though the diversity of wildlife at Segera is incredibly rich with a checklist that boasts buffalo, elephant, eland, Beisa oryx, Lelwel's hartebeest and a number of predators such as leopard, cheetah and spotted hyaena, four key species have been identified as endangered and receive intensive research and monitoring: patas monkeys, Grevy's zebra, lion and wild dog. An encouraging fact is the steady increase in numbers amongst these, especially with three Grevy's zebra births this year alone.
To completely round off the wildlife experience, the number of bird species totalling 290, makes Segera a birder's paradise. With large numbers of the various parrots, sunbirds and kingfishers around, grabbing the binoculars every time you set foot outside is a completely natural reaction.