The Umani Springs, surrounded by a beautiful patch of emergent indigenous forest which is home to endemic species, is fed by heavy morning dews and mists filtered through the lava ash of the forested Chyulu Hills, a range that is of fairly recent origin. Not unlike the famous Mzima Springs of Tsavo West in aspect, the crystal clear waters of Umani provide the only ground water for the wildlife that inhabits the area of the hills. However, besides being both faunally and florally important, the Springs are also vital to the survival of all life of the area, including the human residents of Kibwezi town.
Thanks to an unexpected legacy left to the Trust, we were able to purchase a lease on Umani Springs. The Forest Department, which has been exceedingly cooperative, has also extended the terms of our concession to incorporate the protection and management of the entire Kibwezi Forest an area comprising 5,849.6 Hectares (14,448.512 Acres) The Trust will work towards restoring the forest, which in the past has suffered from uncontrolled illegal logging, and charcoal burning. We will, of course, protect and nurture all the wildlife as well as the springs, and raise revenue that will benefit the neighboring community who have already been very cooperative with the De-Snaring team that is based there.
Currently under construction is what promises to be a beautiful and well appointed Self-Help and Self Catering facility not unlike the very popular Ithumba Camp that we built and manage in Northern Tsavo. Situated just 14 kms from Kibwezi town on the main Nairobi – Mombasa highway, the Umani Springs Camp promises to be popular, being accessible and offering a spectacular and unique wildlife experience.
Already the wildlife is returning in numbers to drink at the waterhole and swamp which is fed by piped water taken from the headwaters a short distance away, with over 60 resident elephants now sheltering within the forest. Water birds gather there in numbers, and arboreal wildlife is prolific, such as monkeys, Giant Galago “bushbabies”, genets, and some enormous pythons which are often visible. We anticipate that the Camp being operational by November 2010, and we are confident of its success as a fundraising initiative to benefit both the forest and the neighboring community.