If you are planning to play at the Vipingo Ridge golf course, be prepared for new company. And it’s not Caddies. Wild animals! Four species of animals – impala, eland, oryx and water buck – have been introduced as part of the project to create a wildlife sanctuary on the Vipingo Ridge 2,500-acre estate.
The new four-legged residents are roaming freely grazing on the fairways and greens of the 18-hole championship PGA Baobab Course.
“In conjunction with Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and Lafarge, the introduction of wildlife has begun. The vision for the sanctuary is a sustainable and thriving ecosystem with Kenya’s wild herbivores roaming free and adding to the spectacular experience on the ridge. Seven specially trained rangers are now on site to monitor and protect the animals, ensuring there is a positive symbiosis between them, the environment and Vipingo Ridge’s members and guests,” Alastair Cavenagh, chairman Vipingo Ridge said.
For its unique features, Vipingo Ridge, Africa’s only PGA-accredited golf course featuring a meandering system of lakes and streams that runs throughout the 18 holes, was last year chosen to host the Magical Kenya Ladies European Tour season finale, the first in Africa.
“The integration of animals has so far been seamless. We are aware that there could be some limited damage especially on the greens but the value-add outweighs the cost of damage, if any. Playing on a fairway with animals walking alongside is so fascinating,” said Saleem Haji, the Director of Golf at Vipingo Ridge.
In preparation for the arrival of the wildlife at Vipingo Ridge, areas of scrub land were cleared and new grass and trees planted. A reservoir and Chodari dam, purpose-built watering holes have also been set up for the animals.
“The first phase of the wildlife introduction has proven a great success with the animals bonding quickly. As more and more land is developed to create space for increasing populations of people, there is a growing need to create safe zones where animals can live and breed in the wild,” Cavenagh said.
The second phase of the project which involves introduction of more species notably zebra, giraffe and bush back will commence at the end of November 2020.
Eyes on the ball, head down and stay on the fairway…avoid the rough.