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 kilometres and includes four different national parks. They travel between parks following traditional movement routes. In recent years, those routes have become flashpoints for human-wildlife conflict.
For centuries, Maasai communities in the area were shepherds, but climate change and the encroaching urban sprawl have forced many Maasai people to become farmers. The result is that crops are often planted in the middle of an elephant highway. When elephants discover these crops, they think they have found a surprise feast.
But a feast for elephants can create a famine for farmers. Once farmers discover the devastation, some hunt down the elephants in revenge. The result is a tragic and vicious cycle—people lose their livelihoods and elephants lose their lives.
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 programme, we have helped 66 students pursue high school and university degrees.
Our scholarship programme 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.”
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The problems we face are urgent, complicated and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work and involvement from people like you.