Third in a series on Julie Scardina's recent trip to Africa
A jewel of African conservation is a place called Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. While poaching rhinos for their horn and elephants for their ivory is often rampant in other places, Lewa offers a sanctuary for all wildlife - and the guests who have the great fortune to visit.
As soon as we entered the guarded gates, we knew we were in an extraordinary place. Open vehicles and special escorts picked us up from our regular guides, and off we went on a drive where we encountered baby elephants nursing, rhinos thriving, and zebras both common and endangered.
Lewa is a special place because of the family who owns it, the Craigs, and a lot of people who believe in their mission to conserve wildlife and its habitat through the protection and management of species, the support of communities and the education of neighboring areas. It's also an amazing experience for those who visit. Off-road game drives, a horseback ride among zebras and baboons, even a chance to see the anti-poaching team, including bloodhounds, in action. Security, provided by armed rangers, is a cornerstone of Lewa management. Believe it or not, every rhino is accounted for every few days - or an alert goes out! The wildlife is also provided emergency medical care when needed, orphans are adopted and due to the successful approach, surplus animals are often translocated to neighboring parks.
Visiting Lewa reminds me of several things - that there really are few places left on this planet where animals live as they once did without constant influence - either positive or negative - from human beings. In order to provide wildlife with the best chances of survival in this increasingly complex world, we do need to intervene. And finally, that there are places that realize this and take the responsibility to mitigate some of the negative influence for the benefit of wild survival.