Message from Mike Watson, CEO
It was with great sadness that we announced the death of Anna Merz on the 4th April. Anna, one of Lewa’s founding patrons and a visionary rhino conservationist, remained hugely engaged with Lewa’s work even after her move to South Africa in the mid 90s. She was a regular attendee at the Conservancy’s bi-annual Board meetings, in her role as Patron and actively hosted all ‘Bowling for Rhinos’ annual visits to Lewa.
Anna’s passion for all things rhino was legendary internationally and this coupled with her love for northern Kenya and Lewa in particular, made a powerful ally for Lewa since its inception, in which she was instrumental. Many will be aware of how Lewa and Anna’s histories are inextricably intertwined spanning a period of over 30 years, a period in which Lewa has evolved way beyond what could originally have been envisaged.
Lewa exists now as an internationally renowned conservation organisation, underpinning landscape level conservation across a huge area of northern Kenya and providing a model for protected area management which many look to emulate. We, on Lewa, will never forget that this success is founded on rhino and the NgareSergoi rhino sanctuary, which Anna so passionately engaged with and dedicated her life to building.
In recent years Anna had become increasingly concerned for the survivability of rhino as a species, experiencing first hand in South Africa the devastation wreaked on rhino populations in her adopted country of residence. Sadly we in Kenya have not been immune to the insatiable appetite for rhino horn in the Far East and Anna’s beloved rhino here on Lewa have come under sustained pressure from criminal gangs intent on profiting at the cost of this iconic animal.
As we look to protect every one of the 126 rhino currently on Lewa, including the calf born on the day of her passing and as we continue to secure a flourishing population, it will be with Anna looking over us and in our hearts that we remain committed to perpetuating the success of her vision.
Memorial for Anna:
To honour her memory and in recognition of her extraordinary work here on Lewa we will be holding a memorial for Anna on 12th May 2013, where all who new and loved her will be very welcome. Further details for this will be circulated nearer the time.