Elephant Pepper Camp has conducted its annual self-Environmental audit in accordance with NEMA - Environmental (Impact assessment and Audit) Regulations, of 2003.The facility’s nature conservation effort is promoted through Mara North Conservancy. Its environmental policy is committed to environmental management, health and safety, resources conservation through responsible and sustainable tourism, local community benefits and environmental resources (water, energy and waste) management. The policy is implemented through the environmental management system covering water, energy, occupational health and safety, and waste management.
The camp is constructed on low impact to the natural environment and blends with the surrounding. The guest tents are made out of beige / greenish canvas and are raised on ground by use of sand and gravel whereas the staff quarters are made from similar but ‘smaller’ canvas tents erected on the ground. The natural vegetation has been left intact. To further reduce its carbon foot print, the camp car-pools its guests during transfers and game drives. The camp was a key ‘actor’ in the formulation of Mara North Conservancy; it is part of the conservancy management and plays a significant role in the conservancy operations. It also contributes conservancy fees, lease fees and bed night fee. Elephant Pepper Camp is involved in conservation projects such as; the Mara Predator Project–an initiative to build an identification database of lions in and around the conservancies north of the Masai Mara National Reserve through tracking individuals, and partners with Mara-Meru Cheetah Project–a research initiative headed by Dr. Elena to identify the behavioural adaptations and assessment of impact of social structure on reproductive success and survival of the cheetah in the protected areas.
Waste Water Management
Grey water from the kitchen flows through a grease trap and drains into a manhole while effluent water from guest rooms and staff quarters is managed through manholes, which drain into septic tanks and finally drains into the soak pits. Black water from the guest rooms and public area is managed through septic tanks constituting of soak pits and access manholes for monitoring; the facility has 5 septic tanks in which Bio-enzymes are to facilitate sludge digestion.
Solid Waste Management
The bins are labelled (plastics, food waste and paper) to facilitate waste separation at source. Further sorting is conducted before the inorganic waste is transported to recycling firms in Nairobi through Cheli and Peacock Headquarter offices. Glass waste is disposed to Kitengela Glass Recyclers whereas plastic waste is taken to Thika Recyclers. On the other hand, organic waste is composted through a four chamber composting system. To enhance breakdown, earthworms are introduced in the first chamber, the top layer is collected and introduced to a 2nd chamber, similar process takes place in the 3rd chamber and the last manure is used in the kitchen garden. Waste transported from the facility is accompanied by a ‘waste disposal tracking form’ - a document issued to ensure waste is delivered to the intended destination. Plastic waste minimisation methods include the use, a 500 litres vapour anti bottles – a foldable re-usable water bottle issued to visitors for their use and service of drinking water at the guest tents is in refillable recycled - beaded - wine bottles
Used oil is stored in a 200 litre tank and managed offsite at Nairobi – Cheli and Peacock headquarters. Paraffin Lanterns are used to light the paths at night to mitigate light pollution and a muffler - sound reducing system, has been installed in the backup generator. Proper Housekeeping (clean, dry, and organized) was noted in the store room.
Solar power is the camps’ main source of energy. The facility is fixed with an inverter system with power output of 30 kilowatts, and has a 10 KvA backup generator. Energy for the invertors system and the generator is metered, monitored and recorded. Energy saving measures includes; the use of rechargeable solar torches by guests and security personnel, use of energy saving bulbs and light emitting diodes installed throughout the facility, guests sensitization to minimise energy consumption by switching off unnecessary lights and a centralized charging point – no sockets in the guest tents policy. The camp obtains its firewood from Kakuzi Limited and uses it for water heating at the guest area - uses three (3) efficient water heating kuni boilers – installed by Warm Stem Heat Transfer Limited). Charcoal briquettes are used for oven baking– sourced from Chardust limited and. LPG (Liquefied Petroleum gas) is used for guests cooking. The camps fridges and freezers are all solar powered.
Main source of water for the camp is from borehole which was dug through a partnership with the facility; it also serves the local community in Aitong area. The water is collected from the area by use of a water bowser of 600 litres. Additionally, the facility has 5 tanks with an average capacity of 24,600 litres for rain water harvesting. Water use is metered and recorded for both the rain water and borehole water to monitor the water consumption. Water conservation measures includes; limiting guests to the use of ‘safari showers’ - 20 litres refillable buckets showers, guest tents are fitted with water efficient dual cistern toilet and use of drip watering (from a 200 water litre tank) has been installed on the charcoal fridge roof. Additionally, the tents room information folder is fitted with water conservation sensitization information for guests and water in the guest tents is provided by the use of jugs – no running water taps aimed at plastic use reduction. Brushing glasses are also provided in every guest tent to reduce on water consumption. Drip pipe irrigation has been installed to water the kitchen herbs garden.
Purchasing and Supplies
Elephant Pepper Camp purchases dry foods in bulk and packed in cartons. Vegetables and fruits are packed in re-usable crates and meat in cool boxes. General cleaning detergents are also bought in bulk 20 – 5 litre containers.
Biodegradable Leleshwa soaps –bathroom soaps and solutions are used in the guest tents and fuel (Diesel) is stored in 200 litre tanks
Health and Safety
Environmental Health and Safety
Elephant Pepper Camp has a fire safety policy that aims to ensure compliance with relevant safety legislations; Health Inspection has been conducted by public health inspectors under the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and the facility issued with a Health Inspection Certificate, its Kitchen staff (food and beverage handlers), have undergone medical check-ups, conducted in every (6) six months. A health and safety procedure, fire instruction and fire extinguisher use is provided in the room and a team of (7) seven employees has been trained on health and safety. Additionally, the camp has a well-equipped medical first aid kit; the guest tents are equipped with an emergency ‘walkie talkie’ and night solar rechargeable spotlight. The camp has a list of emergency contacts for the conservancy and radio calls and encourages its visitors to insure with ‘Flying doctors’ evacuation services. Medical emergencies are referred to Aitong Hospital.
Occupational Health Safety
Smoke detectors are fixed within the facility, fire-fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire blanket (in the kitchen) are strategically located with sand buckets installed to complement the fire extinguishers. Fire assembly point, fire exit are clearly marked. The staff members are issued with adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) including aprons, gloves and uniform
Social Cultural Criteria
Training and Education
The camp has a staff training program under Lobster inc.( A South African online hospitality and environmental conservation training program) Training is often conducted on health and safety issues and food service and refreshers courses for the chefs are conducted in Nairobi. The camps guides are certified from the (KPSG) Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association
Benefits to Staff and Local Community
The facility purchases from the locals where feasible, milk and staff meat is obtained from the staffs who happen to be the locals. About 50% of the employees are from the local Aitong area. The re-usable, water – vapour - bottles are issued free to all visitors; however, the guests are encouraged to purchase more, proceeds from the sales are directed towards the community trust. The camp supports the well being of the local people through Cheli and Peacock Community Trust; the camp has invested in; Education: the camp promotes learning by supporting a number of schools namely, Aitong Primary, Ololomei Primary to improve education for Maasai children and youth, establish wildlife eco-clubs promoting conservation awareness, for communities living in the Mara ecosystem. The facility has helped renovate classrooms, install a rain water harvesting system, and build general school infrastructure and purchase furniture, text books and stationery. In health, through a partnership with Kenya Red Cross, the camp launched a bi-annual Medical Camp at Aitong where they provide the Community with medical supplies and peer education sessions touching on HIV/AIDS awareness. The staff is provided with accommodation facilities, food, heath care and staff uniform
The Camp offers village visits to its guests. The visitors are sensitized on the local culture and get engaged in activities such as dances, and buying of curios directly from the locals. A fee of 200USD obtained from guests, during the village visits, is remitted to the locals. The staff is allowed to dress in their cultural attires; cultural dances and talks are organized within the facility to showcase the Maasai culture.
Visitor Communication and Education
The guest tents are endowed with detailed room information folders and an ‘environmental tour walk’ of the facility is done to brief the visitors on environmental conservation, the camps operations and conservancy rules. The camp restaurant area has elaborate reading resource materials such as Africa Geographic magazines, Books on Kenya, Birds of Kenya, Mammals and bird list, and Information on Mara North Conservancy. Visitor education is also enhanced through the camps’ website. Guests engage in activities which include; game drives, village visits, bird watching and nature walk safaris.
Staff Communication and Education other recognition.
New employees are taken through intense induction. The camp has weekly staff meeting and notice boards are used for staff sensitization and communication. The camp has a staff welfare committee which addresses employees’ issues.