The Kilimanjaro Conservancy, established by Peter Jones in 2001, is devoted to the conservation of nature and the reduction of human-wildlife conflict in the West Kilimanjaro eco-system, one of the most biologically diverse habitats in Tanzania.
When the Peter took over the Ndarakwai Ranch in 1995, he quickly learned that one cannot live for long in an area like West Kilimanjaro without being touched by the struggle for survival that the local population faces each day. This struggle often manifests itself in ways that are detrimental, in the long term, to the local community and the environment. It’s easy, for example, to say that poaching and charcoal cutting are wrong. However It is a great challenge to construct realistic long-term alternatives.
This is the first and only conservation project of its type in Tanzania, dedicated to wildlife and habitat rehabilitation, initiating a private anti-poaching project. Ndarakwai is an eleven thousand acre former British Colonial cattle ranch. The land covers a variety of habitat types, including high grass plains, open Acacia – Commiphora woodland, riparian woodland, and volcanic vents. In 1995, the land was over-grazed and depleted of its wildlife and old growth acacias.
Drastic measures were needed to rehabilitate the land. Implementing anti-poaching patrols, eliminating grazing and charcoal cutting, and reaching beyond the borders to engage neighboring villagers and their concerns have been the most effective.
Ndarakwai now serves as a refuge and safe passage for wildlife migrating between Amboseli and Arusha National Parks. The central location of the ranch in the greater West Kilimanjaro eco-system, the diverse patterning of habitat, and availability of permanent water (through open furrows and a water hole) make the ranch an important dispersal area for local wildlife. Ndarakwai ranch is ideally situated as a base facility for The Kilimanjaro Conservancy.
Today, elephant, zebra, cheetah, wart hog, lesser kudu, and the occasional lion and buffalo, wander freely on Ndarakwai. Visitors to the ranch include local school children, who see their first elephant at the ranch. Guests, from all over the world, stay at Ndarakwai camp and make sunset safaris to the tree house above the water hole where they gaze down at herds of up to 60 elephant at a time. The water hole is now a bird sanctuary for gray heron, egrets, Egyptian and Spur wing geese, long crested eagle, and hammerkop.