43 Kilometers south of Mombasa, In the Shimba Hills Forest lies Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. It covers approximately 36 sq km. Managed by Kwale County. Initially, it was just a farm frequented by elephants, that caused massive crop destruction. The council decided to turn it into a sanctuary in 1993. Its since has acted as a corridor along an elephant migration route between Mwaluganje and Shimba Hils. The Mwaluganje and the Shimba Hills National Reserve make the Shimba Hills ecosystem.
The ecosystem is characterized by winding water shades, rolling hills, steep ranges, a forest cover of about 23,736 ha, including Shimba forest, Mkongani north and west and Mwaluganje. Mwaluganje today provides a perfect uninterrupted viewing of Elephants with occasional spotting of Leopards. Elephants are the main attractions at the sanctuary and are as many as over 150 residing there. It is a historical bull area where independent elephant bulls grow. Their families live in the neighboring Shimba Hills and Mwalugaje forests. At the sanctuary’s entrance is a local factory that makes paper from elephant dung.
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary is one of the sound examples of community based conservation, where local people act as stakeholders.
How to get there: 4WDs is the proper plan as roads are pretty tough especially via Golini Gate from Shimba Hills National Reserve. However, you can also use the road to Kinango to the main entrance, and is about 13km northeast of Shimba Hills.
Where to Stay: Diani should be the ideal place to stay. Its has endless choices of facilities, from budget, mid-range to luxury options.
Meanwhile, I have been tracking the least known parks and reserves in Kenya from Malka Mari to this week’s quadruplets. Arawale, Dodori, Boni and Tana River Primate National Reserves.
Arawale National Reserve is home to the rare Hunter’s antelope also known as Hunter’s hartebeest, a species only found north of Tana River all the way up to the Somali border. Arawale is a 553sq km bush land created in 1973. Arawale National Reserve, named after a river that enters Indian Ocean at Dodori Creek,it is home to the rare Dugong.
Boni National Reserve covers an area of 1339 sq km and borders Somalia. The name might have crossed your paths from the on going military swoop to flash out Al Shabaab militants suspected to be hiding in this forest.
Tana River Primate National Reserve is home to two endangered primate species, the crested mangabey and the red colobus. The oryx, buffalo, water birds, crocodiles, hippos, the common and grevy’s zebra, lesser kudu, and maasai and reticulated giraffe are common there.
Dodori and Boni have an undeveloped road systems, while all four of them are in locales where bandit activity is possible. This is where advice from local tour operators and Kenya Police is crucial before visiting. However, as Kenya Defense Force dusts off al shabaab menace in Somalia, the situation is expected to get better.