The first safari company to realise the crucial role it could play in conservation, Ker & Downey has been at the forefront of scientific research and wilderness preservation in East Africa since the 1940's. We have outfitted safaris for some of the world’s leading conservation organisations, including the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History, and a percentage of our profits goes towards conservation and social development projects supported by our guides.
In 1961, Donald Ker and Syd Downey were part of a pioneering group that started the Kenya Wildlife Society (now EAWLS) to promote research, advocacy and community education on the protection of wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems across the region.
Today, EAWLS publishes the Swara magazine, which is the voice of conservation in East Africa. It aims to create a collaborative space for sharing information, enabling useful connections and stimulates better public understanding and debate. EAWLS is also a co-publisher of the East African Journal of Ecology.
In 2007 Ker & Downey’s guides helped to establish KWT to raise funds for projects that promote big cat conservation, wildlife scholarships, and other conservation education in critical wilderness areas of Amboseli, Samburu and the Maasai Mara. The company also supports a number of projects to protect endangered species in northern Kenya, and assists in the formulation of conservation management plans with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
For every guest that stays in a K&D camp, we donate a proportion of our profits to KWT. You can find out more by visiting the KWT website.
K&D began our support of rhino rescue projects with the donation, in 1986, of a vehicle and conservation equipment. Since then we have been instrumental in supporting a wide range of programs to protect endangered black rhino populations in Kenya and Tanzania.
Our guides and their clients have been significant supporters of the pioneering Lewa Wildlife Conservancy's work in Rhino conservation as well Tsavo Trust's partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service in monitoring rhino populations in Tsavo East and West National Parks.
For decades, Ker & Downey guides have been instrumental in the creation of a number of community-run conservancies in critical wildlife dispersal areas, including the Mara Conservancy, the Kitirua Conservancy near Amboseli National Park, and the Ishaq Bin and Meibae Conservancies.
All K & D guides are passionate conservationists and all individually support various projects across Africa. Numerous clients have been introduced to the projects and have become significant donors and even board members of many of them. These include, but are not limited to the Kenya Wildlife Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, The Mara Conservancy, Tsavo Trust, Big Life Foundation, African Schools of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association and Local Ocean Conservation.
Surrounding the majority of the Amboseli National Park is community-owned land, which is open to wildlife that disperses in and out of the park with the dry and wet seasons. The Maasai-owned Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch is the largest and features key corridors for wildlife, including onto the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
On the western boundary of Amboseli, at the southern end of the seasonal Lake Amboseli, lies a network of natural springs and groves of woodland, that are vital for migrating elephants. The OOGR community recognised the importance of this area and set it aside for conservation. Ker & Downey Safaris are proud leaseholders of the conservancy. Lease fees cover the costs of protecting the area, as well as funding vital community-led projects, such as school teacher salaries, bursaries and maintenance of water points.
In 1996, Ker & Downey helped to set up the KPSGA to provide a streamlined series of standards by which tour operators and their guides could be measured. This acclaimed body provides a series of voluntary exams for rating professional guides and lodge naturalists, which has become a template for guide accreditation across Africa.
A number of K&D guides are proud members of other guiding associations across the continent, including the Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA).
K&D guides have regularly consulted field guide associations and guiding schools in their attempts to improve product offerings across the East African region.