Taita Discovery Centre, Tsavo, Kenya is an environmental, educational and field study hub in the heart of the Kasigau Conservation Trustlands. It is a unique resource for university students, researchers, gap year volunteers, conservationists and people seeking a meaningful career break or retirement challenge.
The Centre is tucked in the heart of Tsavo on 170,000 acres of unspoiled private and community owned land that is the core of the Tsavo Kasigau Wildlife Corridor. Formerly known as the Taru Desert, Tsavo is Kenya's largest uninterrupted wilderness terrain : spanning some 20,812 square kilometres.
The local community are based around Mount Kasigau, at the furthermost point of the Eastern Arc of Mountains. Originally mountain dwellers, the villagers now live around the base, each village relying on one of the 7 rivers which run off this natural cloud-forest topped mountain. Traditional revenue sources have been cattle ranching, subsistence crop farming, honey-gathering, charcoal burning and the illegal bushmeat trade.
Following prolonged droughts which ravaged the cattle ranching economy and systematic ivory poaching in this area, culminating in a major anti-poaching offensive by the Kenya Wildlife Service in the early 1990's, the idea was born : to protect the remaining wildlife and re-open this age old wildlife corridor by involving the community as guardians of the wilderness.
The aim is to secure the future of this traditional wildlife haven, one of the largest unspoiled tracts of bush in East Africa, by inspiring and enabling the local people to protect this vital corridor and dispersal area for 1000 elephant and other wildlife, that traditionally migrate between precious sources of water in the adjacent Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.
The aim is to educate the local communities and by directly involve them in environmentally responsible small businesses, to harness their support and end their former reliance on the bush meat trade and poaching.
The approach is simple : education, participation, conservation and community service. We offer a range of courses and participatory and project opportunities to overseas visitors which are in harmony with the local communities' daily lives and contribute directly to their livelihood, demonstrating the benefits of wildlife and environmental conservation.
The centre offers affordable tailor-made Educational Programs and Field Trips and the chance to study diverse environmental and community conservation issues. Accommodation is in single sex, comfortable dormitories ; each block has its own hot showers and flush toilets. There are 3 additional 2 room bandas (cottages) with twin beds and shared shower and toilet room. Food is freshly cooked, plain but good, served in an open 'rondavel' dining area. The centre has a well-equipped laboratory, an interesting museum of species and flora samples and is a favourite drop-in location for researchers and scientists from all over Africa.
Volunteers, based in bandas (local thatched cottages) in the local villages are also expected to contribute to the cost of their stay and to be eligible must in advance design a mutually beneficial participation program in conservation or community with TDC on behalf of the Kasigau communities
TDC has pioneered practical ways of combining self-discovery, participatory and educational tourism designed to appeal to the heart and soul of a traveller in Africa. Here the focus is to enable active and responsible philanthropy alongside immersion in the culture, the environment and the eco-system. It is more than 'feel-good' conscience salving : every activity in which a visitor to Taita Discovery Centre participates, every shilling of revenue created through projects and commercial initiatives, directly benefits the local communities.