Kitenden land lease begins year three

Every year since 2013, the IFAW East Africa team makes a trip to Amboseli.Every year since 2013, the IFAW East Africa team makes a trip to Amboseli tucked away to the south of Kenya to meet with the land owners of the Kitenden Corridor Conservation Area (KCCA).  KCCA is a 26,000-acre piece of land that IFAW and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) have leased from the land owners who are members of the larger Olgulului/Olalarashi Group Ranch (OOGR).

The meetings are usually large gatherings with more than 1,000 community landowners, representatives from local and national government, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other wildlife and conservation organizations.

The meetings are predominantly held to keep the landowners abreast of the developments in establishing the Kitenden Conservancy, the long-term goal for the leased land. We lease this land to ensure that elephants have room to roam between Amboseli National Park in Kenya and similar land conservancies on the Tanzanian side leading up to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Though the meeting this year was much smaller with no more than 150 people in attendance, it proved to be equally if not more meaningful to all who attended.

The IFAW scholarship recipients with members of the community and IFAW staff. Joining us were students who are beneficiaries of an IFAW scholarship established earlier in the year. Also in attendance were parents of the 64 students and some of their teachers, representatives from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), IFAW President and CEO Azzedine Downes, representatives from the county government and representatives from AWF.

The students gave spectacular presentations including a song and two poems on the importance of wildlife and education and how the two are intertwined.

The parents and teachers thanked IFAW and encouraged the students to fully appreciate the opportunity to receive an education.

Although the students, teachers and parents were grateful, Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO noted that IFAW owed the community the highest appreciation for investing in the wildlife through the land lease to IFAW and AWF.

“It is not IFAW transforming the land it is you by agreeing to protect the wildlife. The things that IFAW adds such as education is because of the commitment that you have made to protect the elephants. We thank you and hope for many long years of cooperation,” he said.

Bush breakfast in Kitenden Conservancy. The day prior to the meeting with the students and their teachers and parents, IFAW hosted guests to a tour of the leased area in Kitenden. The tour included a hike through gorges in Kitenden where the guests savored a meal prepared by young men from the Maasai community. It also included an early morning bush breakfast and a bush walk to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife.

IFAW in partnership with members of the Group Ranch are seeking investors to see this dream come to fruition. These efforts will pay off in a massive way for the wildlife, the community and tourism investors when the Conservancy is fully operation.

--JN

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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