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Linking livelihoods with conservation

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  • Quick Facts:


    2,612,584 hectares (10,087 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Mt. Kenya National Park
    2. Samburu National Reserve
    3. Buffalo Springs National Reserve
    4. Shaba National Reserve
    5. Laikipia Plateau


In the shadow of Mt. Kenya, the national parks, private ranches, and communal lands of the Samburu Landscape 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.

Tags: Kenya, East Africa


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 Landscape: 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 Landscape 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 Landscape:

  • 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. 

  • Ewaso Lions Ewaso Lions
    Ewaso Lions
    Monitoring lions while raising community awareness

    Kenya’s lions could be extinct in the next two decades.

    Habitat loss and conflict with humans are the prime culprits of the drastic reduction in lion populations...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • Starbucks Conservation Coffee John Runana
    Starbucks Conservation Coffee
    Combatting deforestation and improving livelihoods

    Kenyan farmers needed a more profitable and sustainable crop.

    Arguably, the best-quality Arabica coffee on earth grows in East Africa’s volcanic soils—coffee so good,...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • OL Lentille Lodge Paul Joynson-Hicks
    Ol Lentille Lodge
    Protecting Kenyan wildlife

    Kenyan wildlife is diverse but threatened.

    Kenya is home to some of Africa’s most diverse ecosystems and identifiable species. Lush savanna landscapes play host to the...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • Grev's Zebra Protection Paul Muoria
    Grevy's Zebra Protection
    Monitoring Grevy’s zebra populations in the Samburu Landscape

    Grevy’s zebras are in grave danger.

    A mere few decades ago, in the 1970s, more than 15,000 Grevy’s zebras inhabited Africa. Today, fewer than 2,500 remain. The...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • Kuku Project Paul Thomson
    The Kuku Project
    Selling eggs in the Samburu Heartland

    Economic conditions often affect women more harshly. 

    Despite its rapid economic development, many of the communities in Kenya face the same financial and empowerment...

    Read more
    All Projects

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