Northern Kenya’s Ian Craig was awarded a prestigious Order of the British Empire last week by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to conservation and security to communities in Kenya. The Queen’s Birthday Honours list was published on 10th June 2016, on the occasion of Her Majesty’s official 90th birthday, and recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people.
Raised in Kenya, Ian Craig converted his family’s 62,000-acre cattle ranch into a rhino sanctuary at the peak of the elephant and rhino poaching epidemic. The rhino sanctuary flourished at a time when few did, and later, it was re-established as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Ian’s vision propelled Lewa to great success, and the Conservancy has grown to become a world-renowned catalyst and model for conservation that protects endangered species and promotes the development of neighbouring communities.
Through Lewa, Ian began partnering with surrounding local communities to support sustainable land management, conservation and peace efforts. Out of this, the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) was born, and today supports 33 community conservancies across northern Kenya.
Ian now serves as a Strategic Advisor for Lewa and Director of Conservation for NRT and has built up invaluable trust and respect with the communities that he serves. The community conservancies are governed by local people and are transforming the lives and landscapes of northern Kenya. They are building peace in a historically tense region, have reduced elephant poaching by 52% since 2012, and are rehabilitating large areas of degraded land for the benefit of livestock and wildlife. NRT supports Conservancies with fundraising, advice and training working closely with The Kenya Government and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to provide security for both wildlife and people in the region.
“I feel that I am purely the nominee for many people’s support and hard work within Lewa and NRT, including those who have lost their lives in this task. This is a big surprise which I am most honoured to receive,” said Ian.
This isn’t the first NRT and Lewa staff member to receive recognition from the British Royal Family. In 2013, NRT’s Chief Programmes officer Tom Lalampaa received the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa from Prince William, a patron of the Tusk charity. In 2015, Lewa and NRT’s Head of Anti-Poaching, Edward Ndiritu, received the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award.