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Kenya retains a remarkable variety of globally important and locally valuable flagship species and habitats. These include savannah rangelands and forests, and critical habitats in the coastal and marine environment.
Unfortunately, habitat loss is a major problem for Kenya’s wildlife. Many of the megafauna, such as lions or rhinos, are losing the large areas of habitat they need. Hunting is another issue, whether it is due to conflict with humans, poaching for the wildlife trade or for food.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is supporting several key local conservation organisations and institutions at the forefront of securing large areas of land and sea under sustainable governance. We prioritise the strengthening of social and economic models for landscape-level conservation.
We are also working on collaborative land use for conservation, integrating conservation and development in communal land areas and avoidance of resource conflicts. Encouraging durable community structures for conservation, for example community-based organisations, is also important.
On the north coast of Kenya, FFI is continuing to support individual communities to become effective custodians of their natural resources through the establishment and strengthening of community-based institutions, and the implementation of community-led actions to improve the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources from the Tana Delta to the Somali border. The project will facilitate greater coordination and cooperation between communities through the development of an umbrella organisation that will represent shared interests and offer a platform for addressing large scale threats and challenges affecting the marine and coastal environment of the north coast.
The successful conservation of rhinos in relatively small secure fenced areas has been pioneered in Kenya. FFI is financially and technically supporting the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya to conserve their rapidly growing population of over a hundred black rhinos and white rhinos. The conservancy also generates surplus animals for re-stocking other areas. We are particularly involved in an initiative to re-establish the northern white rhino. The last four breeding individuals were translocated to the conservancy from a Czech zoo in December 2009. FFI is also part of the East African Community Rhino Management Group, which exchanges expertise and rhinos between the East African range states.
Thanks to a very generous donation from the Arcus Foundation, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) was able to protect 90,000 acres at the foot of Mount Kenya. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy contains the largest black rhino population in East Africa and is also home to a chimpanzee sanctuary. Ownership of the property has now been transferred from FFI to a Kenyan non-profit entity under a long-term management agreement which incorporates ecotourism and livestock marketing for financial security. FFI provides ongoing support towards their community development programme, conservation initiatives and guidance development through Board participation.
As the oldest conservation organisation in East Africa, the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) has benefitted from support from FFI. It has been extremely successful in combating rhino and elephant poaching in the past, but was struggling to function by the mid 1990s. FFI has helped to rebuild EAWLS’ conservation capacity and is currently supporting them in the development of a regional conservation plan focusing on their coastal and marine programme. The overall goal is to conserve biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of coastal communities through the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in Kenya.
The south Kenya coast, from Msambweni to Vanga on the Tanzanian border, is an area of outstanding natural beauty that harbours highly significant marine biodiversity including black corals, mangroves and seagrass. Small islands within the area provide overwintering and feeding grounds for birds, as well as important nursery and feeding habitat for five species of sea turtles and dolphins. FFI is supporting communities living along the coast to take greater role in the management and care of their marine resources through participatory management and the diversification and development of sustainable livelihoods. A network of seven Community Conserved Areas has already been established, some of which are now reporting a marked decrease in the use of illegal fishing gear, alongside improvements in overall ecological health.
Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is a community-led initiative, supported by FFI since its inception. It represents politically and socially marginalised pastoralist communities in northern Kenya, who depend predominantly on a livestock-based livelihood system. NRT, with the support of FFI and other institutional partners, such as Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service, is working to develop capacity and self-sufficiency of community conservancies in biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. NRT is Kenya’s single largest community conservation programme, and currently works with 20 community conservancies covering an area of more than 19,000 km2.