Global Vision Awards 2007
Il Ngwesi Group Ranch and Lodge, Laikipia Region, Northern Kenya
The porch of Il Ngwesi, a Kenyan lodge built and managed by the local Laikipiak Masai tribe.
Ecotourism can mean more than being green. For some, it means the chance to climb out of desperate poverty. Only a decade ago, the lands of the Laikipiak Masai tribespeople in Northern Kenya were severely depleted by poachers and the cattle-herding tribe's lack of a land-management plan, which often led to overgrazing. Today a 12-bed luxury lodge, solar-powered and constructed entirely from natural wood and grass, overlooks a 16,500-acre conservation area where elephants, lions, impalas, giraffes, waterbucks, baboons, and kudu abound. In the decade since its creation, the lodge has become a model for other Kenyan properties: five similar hotels now operate in the surrounding Laikipia area alone, with a sixth under construction. Yet Il Ngwesi remains unique in being entirely owned by the tribal community, whose members also manage the lodge, care for guests, lead tours, and protect the wild animals that traverse the land. The 6,000-person tribe invests its dividends in medicine, training programs, water projects, and—especially—schools. The Il Ngwesi example proves that conservation tourism can help preserve not only a region's wildlife, but its own way of life as well.
Our judge says: "Il Ngwesi is an idea born from local communities that are finally realizing the full potential of the wildlife they live with and increasingly protect."—M. A. Sanjayan
Visit the Global Vision Awards 2007 article.