For decades, the vast Kerio Valley has been infamously known for cattle-rustling and conflict but, as peace slowly returns, a gem that has been lying unnoticed may now prove to be the magic the region needs to polish up its image and lure visitors.
Tucked away in the scenic Elgeyo Marakwet County, is the little-known Rimoi National Game Reserve, home to East and Central Africa’s largest herd of elephants.
The reserve is 40 kilometres from Iten town, the world’s athletics capital.
To access the reserve, one uses the meandering Iten-Kabarnet road that offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
The elephants at the reserve move together in a group of about 100, compared to other elephant herds that move in pairs, or in a group of three or five.
So peculiar are the elephants in this characteristic that they train their young ones early enough to belong to a herd rather than a small group.
The reserve is also very unique as it has been established by wildlife scientists as a breeding ground for elephants that trout to the sanctuary from neighbouring Turkana and Samburu counties.
The Rimoi elephants graze mainly at night for during the day, they shelter under riverine bushes because of the sweltering heat in Kerio Valley.
So a visitor to the reserve should look out for the elephants in these bushes, or at night when they roam freely in the reserve.
However, one must be cautious as any slightest provocation sparks ire from these wild animals.
Rimoi Reserve is also home to other unique wildlife that includes the world’s rare white crocodile at the campsite along Kerio River.
The crocodile witnessed a decline in population due to interference in the habitat by human activity.
But the County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet and Kenya Wildlife Service have moved in to rehabilitate the reserve, including fencing it off.
“Poaching incidences have declined greatly since we increased surveillance and the County Government embarked on infrastructural development of Rimoi and employed rangers and a warden. The fence has really helped ward off these poachers,” said KWS warden in-charge of Elgeyo Marakwet County, Mr Dominic Kilonzo.
Other animals resident in Rimoi include dik diks, guinea fowls, warthogs, baboons and a huge variety of bird species.