Travelling between the Serena properties, Shenin has noticed the strains humans place on the environment. “Because of the population growth one would observe forest degradation. Water resources are becoming scarcer. But over the last 30 years the change I've noticed most is the unpredictable rainfall and increasing temperatures, leading to more frequent droughts. Late last year, Kenya faced the worst drought in 40 years and Serena Hotels and our suppliers provided food, water and medical camps for the local communities around Amboseli Serena and Kilaguni Serena, and we kept the waterholes topped up for the wildlife.”
“Before that, the melting glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro had transformed the Amboseli National Park in Kenya into a wetland ecosystem. New species of aquatic birds arrived, changing the colour palette of the landscape. But on the other side of the mountain, it was much drier than usual. We are seeing constant changes in the landscapes around our properties. And even while I’ve worked with Serena Hotels, I’ve seen the sea levels rise.
“An overlooked consequence of climate change is ‘eco-anxiety’ and mental health challenges. Environmental changes are causing heat waves, long-term droughts, rising sea levels and eroding coastlines. These threaten livelihoods, habitats, access to food and water security, leading to disease outbreak, malnutrition, unemployment, poverty, human-wildlife conflict and displacement. Some people could sink into despair. Others could be living with trauma related to extreme weather events.”
Does tourism compound these problems, or can it help?