Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.
Wildlife knows no boundaries. So AWF has defined areas across the continent that are critical to conservation. These Priority Landscapes can cover public and private lands alike and often cross borders.
2,612,584 hectares (10,087 sq. mi.)
In the shadow of Mt. Kenya, the national parks, private ranches, and communal lands of the Samburu Heartland support some of Africa’s most impressive wildlife. The Grevy’s zebra and the reticulated giraffe, species found only north of the Equator in Africa, roam the acacia grassland where lions and wild dogs hunt their prey.
Wildlife needs forests, and so do farmers.
Years of logging in the forests around Aberdare and Mt. Kenya National Parks had already taken a toll on the forests’ health when the decline of local farming enterprises began forcing more people to rely on charcoal burning and other unsustainable activities to earn income. Forests play an important role in the Samburu Heartland: They help regulate water runoff and soil erosion while providing habitat for wildlife. Without healthy forests nearby, local farms become more vulnerable to floods and droughts, while wildlife is at greater risk for conflict with humans.
Cattle-carnivore conflict hurts communities and wildlife.
Pastoralist communities in the Samburu Heartland have lived near wildlife for centuries, but population growth and new settlements in once-wild lands are disturbing the peace. When predators like lions, wild dogs, hyenas, and leopards come across cattle, they make a meal of it. For people who depend on livestock for food and income, the carnivores are destroying more than just an animal; they are literally eating into a family’s savings. People fight back by killing carnivores. Grazing cattle in wild areas puts communities at risk for losing their most valuable investments and threatens endangered species that have a taste for domesticated meat.
Our solutions to the challenges in the Samburu Heartland:
Use coffee to make income and forests grow.
African Wildlife Foundation partnered with Starbucks Coffee Trading Co. to train growers in Starbucks’ Coffee and Farmer Equity (CAFÉ) practices, which ensure that coffee growing is both environmentally and ethically responsible. AWF and Starbucks also upgraded old equipment to make farming and processing more sustainable. Because coffee plants need shade to grow, farmers planted thousands of trees in the area. But, forests and their wild inhabitants were not the only ones to benefit: For the 7,000 coffee growers who participated in the six-year project, crop prices increased between 200% and 300%!
Provide for new scout radios: music to the forest’s ears.
AWF provided Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers with a repeater station and 16 handheld radios to monitor the Kirisia forest. Telecom Kenya agreed to mount the repeater station on a telecom mast so that it covers a radius of 45 square miles, or 60% of the forest area. This communications equipment makes it easier for scouts to report and respond to illegal activities and unsustainable resource exploitation.
Train wildlife warriors to keep the peace.
In partnership with the Ewaso Lions Project, AWF has trained a surprising group of local people—Samburu warriors—to protect endangered predators. In exchange for a food stipend and weekly lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic, they monitor wildlife using Global Positioning System (GPS) and collect data. The warriors report animal sightings, incidents of human-wildlife conflict, and illegal activities like poaching. As wildlife ambassadors, they also discourage people in their communities from killing predators in retaliation for hunting their livestock.
Explore some of our related projects.
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