Thursday, December 31, 2009


Ostriches are abundunt in this dry part of kenya, North Eastern province(NEP) with mainly the somali Ostich race. They are present in almost all the districts but little effort has been directed to its commercial exploitation as an alterntive to pastoralism. Local communities here attach alot of Nutritutional and medicinal value to ostrich meat and its products. I have come a cross many isolated ostrich populations in the region which can become perfect ostrich farms.

However, Key public and private players in the eco-tourism sector have faulted Kenya’s development strategy, Vision 2030, that partly seeks to create resort towns in Eastern and North Eastern provinces. For Example, Isiolo town in Eastern Province and two unidentified towns in North Eastern province will be developed through the establishment of casinos, hotels, upscale retail outlets, a modern airport and transport facilities. Currently, tourism is mainly restricted to safaris in those areas with little to show in NEP Kenya.

Ecotourism in Northeastern Kenya is especially confounded by the lack of clear links with many existing or draft policies contradicting one another, or providing counter efforts in assisting those in marginalised areas.
“For example, the draft Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Policy highlights the support of government for pastoralism as a livelihood system,” noted key players including CARE Kenya, the Enhanced Livelihoods in the Mandera Triangle and Kenya Land Conservation Trust.

The players were launching an eco-tourism policy brief, which analyses several enterprises in northeastern Kenya, and made recommendations for the improvement of the systems in place.There are significant stumbling blocks to developing northeastern Kenya as a key tourism destination at this moment in time.With limited infrastructure in and around the region, expansion of road development only beginning, and significant insecurity issues, the proposed development of Isiolo as a resort city may not be a wise economic investment in the short-term, according to the players.

The establishment of Isiolo as a resort city was viewed as an opportunity to optimise the rich tourism potential presented by Mt Kenya, Meru National Park, the Aberdares and Samburu National Park.“There is a need for a targeted tourism market and product assessment supported by the public and private sector — possibly using a combination of fresh external and knowledgeable internal experts,” said Dr Julian Fennessy of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust.She said the current tourism products are limited — environments are under pressure from high numbers of tourists thus limiting Kenya’s possibility of attracting repeat visitors, making the need to develop new opportunities critical.

Kenya’s ecotourism industry first drew international attention in 1997, when the now famous community lodge at Il’ Ngwesi was a runner-up in British Airways’ prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow awards.Two other properties — Tortilis Camp in Amboseli and Ol Donyo Wuas in the Chyulu Hills — have also been honoured in the awards.Il’ Ngwesi is now a model for community tourism projects across Africa.

Other innovative developments in African ecotourism are taking place in the semi-arid wilderness of the Laikipia Plateau, where a growing number of far-sighted communities are setting aside areas for wildlife and letting the land regenerate after decades of over-grazing.