Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary
LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary was formed when three community-owned ranches agreed to set aside 46,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of their land for wildlife conservation. This area was merged into a conservancy and legally registered as a trust in 2001. The sanctuary, wedged between two parks, Tsavo West National Park and a privately held wildlife sanctuary to the east, is a significant dispersal area for elephants and other species of animals and a migration corridor for the elephants.
The land surrounding LUMO consists of woody, rolling savannah and remnants of highland tropical rainforest. The soil is very fertile, and, with good rainfall, farming is productive. However, due to deforestation and increased agriculture reduced water yields have been drying up the rivers, reducing farm productivity in the lowlands, and increasing human-animal conflicts in the highlands as elephants move up the sides of the Taita Hills in search of water.
Formation of LUMO was initially based not on conservation but on benefiting the wildlife. With a strengthened LUMO board and development of a strategic plan with the help of the African Wildlife Foundation the LUMO board and management team concluded that the focus of its strategic plan needed to extend beyond the boundaries of the sanctuary. This was especially necessary since shareholders were not expected to benefit from the profitability of the sanctuary for several years.
Giving up land for conservation also had forced LUMO members to use their remaining lands more intensively for crop and livestock production. Recognizing this, the board created a Community Based Nature Reserve Management (CBNMR)subcommittee, whose role it was to help members better manage and benefit from their land. Subcommittee members included farmers from the surrounding area as well as district and national government representatives and other stakeholders.
Members of the subcommittee received intensive training from Pact on how to run group meetings, identify and map natural resources, do critical analysis of systems and markets, and build consensus. The members then fanned out to surrounding areas holding community meetings with LUMO shareholders to help them map their resources and identify sustainable ways they could capitalize on them.
When the mapping exercise was done, a district-wide meeting was convened. The maps were put together into one large map so everyone could see what each wanted and how it affected everyone else. This created the context for finalizing a LUMO integrated natural resource management plan, which prescribed the management for some 55,000 hectares of land outside of the sanctuary.
To date, 86 LUMO farms are implementing activities under the plan, largely with their own resources along with a few small grants for group activities. The activities represent small interventions with quick turn around: anti-erosion and water retention techniques to stop the formation of gullies and improve soil moisture retention, reforestation of highlands for timber and watershed benefits and the introduction of improved cropping and grazing practices.
In many groups participation is close to 100 percent. Each group of farmers decides on its own time schedule for completing projects. For example in one community members give two hours each day to the construction of a small reservoir that will enable more efficient distribution of water to over 500 families. In another, members meet twice a week to assist one another in terracing their farms to better catch scarce water; they have already put in bench terraces for 40 farms. The Kenya Agro Forestry Extension Services trained the group in how to layout the trenches and is now advising on selection of fruit trees to plant as a food crop.
With better protection of the springs, more effective water catchment designs, and improved agricultural practices, the elephants in due course will return to their natural habitat in the lowlands and people will be able to make a better income from their lands.
As one proud farmer put it pointing proudly to his newly terraced farm, "This is LUMO. We're all a part of LUMO."