Elephants traveling in the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya. Photo by: Billy Dodson
AWF continues its land lease initiatives and secures more than 7,000 acres allowing elephants save haven to roam
NAIROBI, Kenya, August 07, 2013 – Elephants and other wildlife are getting more room to roam this month, as the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) signs more than 700 new land leases, amounting to more than 7,000 protected acres of land, in the Amboseli ecosystem.
Amboseli National Park, located in southern Kenya, is a unique ecosystem that is home to about 1,400 elephants, but the park is too small to host this population and other wildlife in their constant search for food, water and habitat. The newly leased land will extend elephants’ range between Amboseli south across the border to Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. This area, known as the Kitenden Corridor, provides elephants with the space they need to freely and safely move out of the park as they follow rains and search for food.
As they cross park boundaries, elephants frequently come into contact with farms and communities, resulting in conflict. AWF has been working with the Maasai community at the Olguluilui Group Ranch to set aside this land for wildlife, in exchange for a bi- annual lease payment from AWF. Thus far, 533 landowners have signed agreements to lease 5,330 acres of land, and another 170 are set to sign their lease agreements by the end of the month—for another 1,700 acres.
“By extending the Kitenden Corridor, we aim to reduce conflict and provide both communities and elephants with a more peaceful existence,” says African Wildlife Foundation Vice President for Conservation Strategy Kathleen Fitzgerald. “We have found that partnering with communities to find innovative solutions to securing critical wildlife habitat is the most effective way of conserving land and protecting wildlife while also benefiting people. This is a win-win situation where wildlife get the habitat they need and communities are given a payment for ecosystem service in exchange.”
AWF launched the land lease program more than five years ago, and with these additional acres, AWF will have protected more than 25,000 acres in the Amboseli ecosystem.
“We are delighted that other conservation groups, such as International Fund for Animal Welfare, are replicating our model of land leases and expanding the area under conservation,” says Fitzgerald.
AWF has previously signed land-lease agreements with hundreds of landowners to the east of Amboseli National Park to ensure a protected wildlife corridor between Amboseli, Chyulu Hill National Park, and through to Tsavo East National Park. As part of this effort, AWF partnered with Disneynature in 2011 to set aside 50,000 acres of the corridor for lions, cheetahs, and other treasured species living in the African savanna.
About African Wildlife Foundation
Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States. For more information, visit: www.awf.org
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