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Date: November 7, 2019 | By: Deborah Kilcollins | Category: Travel Blog

This started out as an average day on safari in Kenya (as if any day on safari in Kenya could be considered average). Ashish was meeting with the COO of Lewa Conservancy, the first rhino sanctuary in Kenya founded by the Craig family and the late Anna Merz, who Ashish’s father knew.

Ashish and his guide Benson were in a safari vehicle when another vehicle was headed towards them from the opposite direction. He noticed a dog in the vehicle and thought he recognized it. Then he realized who was in the front seat. Quite by chance and much to Ashish’s surprise, one of his personal heroes, noted conservationist, Sir Ian Craig, co-founder of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), drove past. Ashish and Benson turned around their vehicle, scrapped the game drive and caught up with the other vehicle.

Ian Craig stepped out and welcomed Ashish with a smile. Ashish was able to share with him some of the steps that Big Five is taking to support Africa’s wildlife, including equipment he was delivering to fellow NRT member at Sera Conservancy’s anti-poaching team.

That is how Ashish met his hero, 27 years after hearing his name. The Craig family founded The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy near Mount Kenya more than three decades ago when rhinos were facing serious poaching threats. The work to protect the rhino was the catalyst that led to Lewa’s beginnings. Since 1983, Lewa has provided a safe home for rhinos. As the first and the leading pioneer in private rhino sanctuary in East Africa, Lewa’s black rhino population has grown from an initial 15 to 169 black rhinos today and 98 Southern White Rhino without a major poaching incident in six years, one of the best and most inspiring success stories in Africa. In turn, this has created a vital habitat for other species including the endangered Grevy’s zebra, elephant, lion, cheetah and giraffe.

The NRT is a non-profit that supports community wildlife and land conservancy groups. As one of the successful sanctuaries for rhinos, Lewa is working with a growing number of partners across Kenya and Africa. Together, they share “a common mandate to help the rhino rise out of near-extinction and push the boundaries of what is possible in conservation.”

For more about Big Five’s commitment to conservation, visit


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