In Kenya and Tanzania, we’re helping elephants and people thrive together.
In the grasslands around Mount Kilimanjaro, elephants wander around a habitat that’s 120,000 square kilometers, and includes four different national parks.
These animals are not only critical to maintaining the health and biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit, but also provide valuable economic opportunities for communities and governments as they draw tourists from around the globe.
The elephants travel between parks following traditional movement routes. In recent years, those routes have become flashpoints for human-wildlife conflict.
Local communities have shared this stunning landscape with wildlife for generations, but population growth and lifestyle changes, including the expansion of agriculture, development of roads and the mining industry, has impacted the delicate balance between animals and humans sharing this landscape.
With these growing pressures there is an increase in human-wildlife conflict in the region, resulting into more clashes between wildlife and local communities. People feel less tolerant towards wildlife and this also makes the area susceptible to wildlife crime.
Thanks to funding from the Department of Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and building on decades of work, IFAW is partnering with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to tackle poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Kenya.
This will be done by:
- Facilitating community rangers with mentorship and training including with critical non-lethal supplies and equipment.
- Providing training for law enforcement to be able to effectively identify wildlife crime and enforce the relevant laws associated with it.
- Working with the judicial system to be able to prosecute those committing wildlife crime.
- Supporting the KWS air wing in its role on countering poaching.
- Facilitating cross border collaboration.
Engaging the local community
In 2013, we signed a five-year agreement with the local community in Amboseli, including leases with 1,600 landowners, to safeguard 16,000 acres of an elephant movement route between Amboseli and Kilimanjaro National Parks. In 2017, in addition to leasing an additional 1,000 acres as wildlife habitat, IFAW extended the agreement for another five-year term – collectively securing 26,000 acres.
By working with private sector partners, we developed a sustainable facility to promote elephant tourism in the region. And by creating a new source for tourism, we created a new stream of revenue for the local community.
We also helped individuals enter into the formal financial system, learn agricultural methods, and receive an education. Through our fully funded scholarship program, we have helped 66 students pursue high school and university degrees.
Our scholarship program has helped students pursue degrees in everything from business to tourism to clinical medicine. And once they receive their degrees, scholarship recipients are using them to help their local communities. One of those students is Lucy Swakei Sepeko. After earning her degree, Lucy gave a speech to 1,500 community members.
Standing before them, she said that her education had taught her “what it means to be a woman…to be healthy…[and to] know what my rights are.” By improving lives in the community, we’re improving the lives of the animals who also call the area home.
Every problem has a solution, every solution needs support.
The problems we face are urgent, complicated, and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work, and involvement from people like you.