Olerai House was the home of Kenya’s renowned elephant researchers and conservationists Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, and is located on the farm where Oria grew up. The family still owns the property and Oria helps to oversee its daily management. For much of its history, it was a working ranch raising cattle and other livestock, but was also farmed for lucerne, cabbages and other crops. In 1993, the decision was made to turn it back to nature and to open a small lodge to invite guests to experience the sanctuary as it reverted back to its original environment, to the joy of the animals.
This decision was made in part because the family is passionate about preserving Kenya’s wilderness. In the face of the increasing pressures of modernization and a growing human population, there is less and less space for wildlife. But it was also because protecting the environment and maintaining its biodiversity is critical for our future, and there are many ways that good environmental stewardship can help improve the livelihoods of the local people. At Olerai, as in other parts of the Elephant Watch Portfolio, the family are passionate about putting their ideas into practice.