Magnificent megafauna and marine marvels

Kenya, in East Africa, is home to some of our planet’s most striking landscapes and wildlife.

Visible from space, the Great Rift Valley runs the length of the country from north to south, its undulating hilly landscape punctuated by the sharp peaks of mountains and shimmering lakes.

Africa’s second-highest mountain – Mount Kenya – is also found here, 150 km north-east of the capital, Nairobi. When not shrouded in mist, this extinct volcano provides a jaw-dropping backdrop to a classic savannah landscape grazed by megafauna.

The ‘big five’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – can all be found here along with a huge variety of other species, from the well known (such as giraffe, zebra, African wild dog and umbrella thorn trees) to many other less familiar but equally remarkable species. It is little wonder, therefore, that Kenya attracts over a million tourists every year – a great many of them heading out on safari.

Perhaps less well known, however, are the riches within Kenya’s coastal waters, which harbour significant marine biodiversity including black corals, mangroves and seagrass. The southern stretch of the coastline features small islands that provide crucial overwintering and feeding grounds for birds, as well as important nurseries and feeding habitat for dolphins and five species of sea turtles.

Unfortunately, Kenya’s remarkable biodiversity is facing many threats – from habitat loss and unsustainable development (including massive shifts to agri-business) to poaching, pollution and climate change, all of which need to be addressed urgently to preserve the integrity of the country’s rich natural environment.

In particular, the degeneration of the vast rangelands through over-grazing (especially by increasing numbers of sheep and goats) is jeopardising the future of local pastoralist lifestyles, and undermining a traditional form of land use in which pastoralists and wildlife have been able to co-exist.

Kenya facts
Country in Africa

Size (land & water):

580,367 km²

Population (2016 est.):

46,790,758

GDP per capita (2016 est.):

US$3,400

Kenya is located in Africa. It is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Indian Ocean.

32,000

plant and animal species have been recorded in Kenya to date.

8%

of Kenya’s land is currently protected for wildlife conservation.

Our work to protect Kenya’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been championing wildlife conservation in Kenya in some shape or form since our foundation in 1903. Exactly a century later, we opened an office in Nairobi and established a formal country programme, since when we have been supporting local partners to protect key habitats and species. In particular, we have played a crucial role in establishing a number of wildlife conservancies in northern Kenya that protect wildlife while also supporting sustainable local livelihoods.

One of our most notable success stories has been the establishment and ongoing support of Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The story began in 2003 when FFI, with the help of the Arcus Foundation, purchased a 364 km2 cattle ranch that forms part of a critical wildlife corridor at the foot of Mount Kenya. The ranch was converted into a wildlife conservancy and ownership was transferred from FFI to a Kenyan non-profit entity in 2005 under a long-term management agreement.

The project safeguards the conservancy’s wildlife, including East Africa’s largest black rhino population and the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos. It also provides a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees and generates income through wildlife tourism, which is reinvested in conservation and community development. Ol Pejeta also supports the management of the wider Laikipia landscape.

FFI has also been supporting the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) since its inception in 2004. This amazing community-led organisation has developed a network of community conservancies across 44,000 km2 each of which is helping to transform people’s lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources.

Beyond our terrestrial conservation programme, we are supporting the efforts of coastal communities in the south of Kenya to secure greater involvement in the management and husbandry of their marine resources.