Located in the northern part of Eastern Kenya, Isiolo is an interesting little frontier town, home to three wildlife sanctuaries that are a few miles apart. These parks are the habitats of Kenya’s rarest species including Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s Zebra, the Gerenuk, the Somali ostrich and the reticulated giraffe.
Isiolo County is mostly inhabited by the descendants of Somali community who were resettled there after the First World War. Isiolo town itself presents a strategic point to explore the national reserves at Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba, all grouped together 40 km to the north. These national parks are the most accessible of the northern wildlife sanctuaries.
Occupying an area of area of 25,336Km2, Isiolo County’s main economic activities include pastoralism, subsistence agriculture, small-scale trade and limited harvesting of gum Arabica resin. Being neighbors with Meru County, the social life in the town revolves around drinking and chewing miraa. With a population of fewer than 20000 residents, Isiolo county has only two administrative constituencies; Isiolo North & South. The county consists of Turkana, Borana, Somali and Meru communities, with the Boranas forming the largest portion of the population. Most of the Isiolo residents are either Muslims or Christians but the Muslim religious community dominates the region.
- For the best parts of their lives, George Adamson the famous British wildlife conservationist ‘Baba ya Simba’ and his wife joy were game wardens in Isiolo. George Adamson was a British wildlife conservationist and author. He and his wife, Joy, are best known through the movie Born Free and best-selling book with the same title both of which are based on the true story of Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lioness cub they had raised and later released into the wild.
- Isiolo town came about after the First World War. The town grew around the local military camps where much of the population had descended from former Somali soldiers who had fought in World War I which explain the high number of the Somali community in the region.
- Isiolo is set to be a transport hub as the location of the fork of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project which is a flagship project of Kenya’s Vision 2030. The town is also the transport hub to the northern border town of Moyale.
- A small but cosmopolitan town, Isiolo is slowly benefitting from its newly acquired status as a resort city tanks to the popular Samburu and Shaba Game reserves.
Isiolo District was designated as the Headquarters of the Northern frontier Districts by The British East Africa Protectorate in 1922 until the North Eastern was carved out as a separate province in 1963 following the Lancaster House Constitutional conference.