Elephant conservation in Kenya has a great many challenges. The Tsavo Trust does incredible things for these majestic, lumbering beasts. And we constantly strive to do more with what our incredible donors give us.
But, of course, this is not a fast-won fight, nor is it something that will ever have a conclusion. As human population sizes grow and our influence over this planet increases, we seem to find new avenues for conflict with wildlife.
The protection of the world’s largest mammal, the African elephant, requires constant, considered attention. And those that choose to undertake this mission can rest a little easier knowing that there are others who care as much as they do.
We know that there are many other individuals and organisations just as committed to elephant conservation in Kenya as we are. As a result, with this article, we wanted to draw attention and show our appreciation for a conservation project that might need no introduction.
Elephant Conservation Kenya: Nashulai conservancy winner of seventh prize in UNDP’s Equator Prize
In 2020, the United Nations Development Programme released the results of the eleventh edition of the Equator Prize. The award recognises the incredible work done by indigenous communities developing innovative methods of co-existing with nature.
The 2020 edition of the prize saw the Nashulai conservancy claim seventh place. This is great recognition for Kenya’s first ever community-owned and directed conservancy.
The Nashulai conservancy sits on the edge of the world-famous Maasai Mara national park. It comprises land that acts as a wildlife corridor for the migratory animals of Kenya’s park and the Serengeti national park in Tanzania.
Today, Nashulai is thriving. It is home to a great variety of Africa’s iconic fauna and flora. Five years ago, however, the area looked very different.
According to the conservancy’s founder, the lands that now comprise the conservation area used to be dry and barren. Overgrazing had made the area inhospitable to both local herdsmen and Kenyan wildlife.
Four years ago, local landowners decided to bring down the fences that previously broke up the land. They gathered each of its composite parts and joined them together with the joint aims of conserving wildlife, preserving the traditions of their local culture and reversing local poverty.
Conservation in Kenya: Community engagement essential to the welfare and preservation of wildlife
“We are part of a rebirth. The ecosystem is regenerating before our eyes. There’s been an incredible return of wildlife to Nashulai. Elephants, lions, wildebeest… the animals vote with their feet.” – Joseph Kasaine Ole Kosikir, Chief Warden of Nashulai
The project at Nashulai is an inspiring one. It is also revolutionary, though perhaps it shouldn’t be.
As one of the Nashulai conservancy’s founders states, “Our community rose up to save this place and become its stewards for the generations to come. Do you think we don’t know how to do that? This is the land where the bones of our ancestors are buried.”
The success of the Nashulai conservancy in bringing back local wildlife should not come as a surprise. Its organisers were likely the best-placed people on the planet to do so.
Local communities will be an essential component of any successful bid to protect and conserve Kenya’s wildlife. In many cases those local communities also have tried, tested and sustainable methods of interacting with the land they have lived on for generations.
It is as the Journal of Applied Ecology, quoted on the Nashulai Conservancy’s website, puts it: “Wildlife has been in freefall across most of Africa. Only local people can reverse the downward spiral. The research illustrates a very positive finding: community conservation allows people to co-exist with wildlife by bringing benefits, not costs, to the people who live alongside.”
Deserving praise for an incredible, innovative organisation
Congratulations to the people behind Nashulai, keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight.