Working to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation efforts that directly benefit wildlife, wilderness and the local Maasai communities
The world increasingly relies on many traditional communities like the Maasai to protect the ecological treasures that exist within the land that they own. But the incredible wilderness and wildlife of Africa’s grasslands and the famous culture of the Maasai people both face daunting threats to their long-term survival. The fate of both rests with the Maasai themselves as they work to figure out how to benefit from their incredible natural resources while protecting and preserving them at the same time
The Trust funds and operates a range of programs aimed at protecting wilderness and wildlife. Our success comes from promoting sustainable economic benefits to the local Maasai community, thereby encouraging their active participation as stewards of our critical ecosystem. Lease payments for conservancies, carbon credits, wildlife monitoring and security, conservation and ecotourism employment…these are just some of the ways MWCT is creating a cutting edge model of successful community-based conservation
Project Ranger fills a critical gap in wildlife monitoring, surveying, and anti-poaching operations of existing NGO’s in Africa through an emergency fund supporting those on the front-lines of conservation. Contributions from private individuals, foundations, and corporate partners will supplement budget deficits with local ground partners by funding salaries, training, and operations of wildlife monitors, rangers and anti-poaching personnel.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s ripple effects are broad; leaving virtually no industry, economy, or continent immune. As travel and tourism has been brought to a standstill, many wilderness areas are left vacant and workers left with uncertainty of personal income. This “perfect storm” of conditions is leaving many endangered animals highly vulnerable to wildlife crime.
By making bold, and often pioneering, investments into areas that are ecologically and economically vulnerable, Asilia aims to turn the surroudning areas into viable conservation economies, benefitting both the local communities as well as the environment
Asilia acknowledges that people and nature are inseparable partners, so they work closely with communities, authorities, NGOs and industry partners to achieve the best possible long-term outcomes for all concerned. With the help of guests at the accommodations, who contribute a levy of US$5 for each night that they stay with at an Asilia property, significant positive impact is made towards the goal of empowering these areas, including the communities and wildlife that call them home
The Wildlife Conservation Network created the Rhino Recovery Fund (RRF) with the goal of protecting rhinos from wildlife crime and restoring their landscapes, improving the health of rhino populations and benefiting local people
RRF targets the two biggest threats to the world’s five species of rhino: the illegal rhino horn trade and rampant habitat loss. To combat the rhino horn trade, RRF invest in projects aimed at stopping rhino poaching in Africa and ending the trafficking and demand for rhino horn. RRF also support projects that are restoring habitat so that Africa and Asia’s remaining rhinos can recover in intact, functional landscapes.
The threat to pangolins is severe and there is no time to lose, that is why the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) and Save Pangolins created the Pangolin Crisis Fund in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
The Pangolin Crisis Fund (PCF) has one goal: Eliminate the demand, trafficking, and poaching crisis that puts all eight species of pangolins at risk of extinction
The PCF aims to achieve this goal by investing in the best projects to stop the poaching of pangolins, stop the trade and demand for pangolin products, and raise the profile of this little-known animal
Created by the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Lion Recovery Fund funds game-changing conservation actions by the most effective, vetted partners who work collaboratively to bring lions back
Through strategic investments and collaboration with other public and private donors, the Lion Recovery Fund aspires to double the number of lions in Africa, regaining those lions lost over the past 25 years. Lion Recovery Fund are committed to seeing thriving savannah landscapes where Africa’s people, its economic development and its lions all co-exist
To battle this surge in ivory poaching, the Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective projects and partners in Africa, and in ivory consuming nations, to end the ivory crisis and secure a future for elephants. The ECF exists to fuel their efforts, encourage collaboration, and deliver rapid impact on the ground – even within 24 hours of a poaching crisis
Launched by Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Elephant Crisis Fund is the most flexible and responsive fund geared towards emergency assistance and innovative investments in both NGO’s and governments combating the poaching, trafficking, and demand elements of the ivory crisis
The Elephant Crisis Fund supports the best efforts from the most trusted organizations working to save elephants. The ECF funds the best ideas. It provides equal access to funding for both large and small, international or grassroots organizations, based on the merit of their projects to deliver impact for elephants and to stop wildlife crime
Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken over 194,783 kgs (428,522 pounds) of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries
Packed for a Purpose makes it possible to have a big impact in the communities you visit by simply using a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world
A commitment to conservation and responsible tourism has been an integral part of the construction of the properties and daily operations ever since Sanctuary Retreats opened our first camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara in 1999
Sanctuary Retreats continues to build long lasting relationships with the rural communities in the areas in which we operate. The goal is to identify and sponsor long-term, viable and self-sustaining projects that will have the support of staff and visitors
Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) program development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity.
Over its 20 year history, Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.
REDD+ allows local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.
The Pangolin Project is a non-profit organization in its start up phase that was founded in January 2019. It works in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Narok County Government, NGOs and private sector partners to provide sustainable protection to pangolins and their habitat within East Africa.
The Pangolin Project is the only one of its kind in East Africa and is working to promote pangolin awareness throughout Kenya, especially amongst anti-poaching units and actors of law enforcement. They currently have a primary research team based at Sala’s Camp, carrying out field work and community programmes in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. Sala’s Camp is incredibly lucky to have higher numbers of pangolin nearby than any other camp in Kenya and benefits from the knowledge of their resident Pangolin Project experts.
SORALO is a community-based and community-driven land trust established in 2004 to unite 16 Maasai communities in the management and security of their landscape
SORALO’s primary role is to ensure the integrity of Kenya’s South Rift Valley landscape for the benefit of its people and wildlife. SORALO works to help communities in this landscape secure rights to their land, develop management systems to keep the landscape healthy and intact, and create economic opportunities. SORALO continues to develop innovative local conservation models that promote coexistence of people and wildlife, cultural and ecological conservation, and community empowerment.
As one of Africa’s oldest wildlife charities and a leading conservation organisation, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) embraces all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife.
Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established more than 40 years ago and is best known for its Orphans’ Project, the first and most successful elephant orphan rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. The Sheldrick Trust is a pioneering conservation organization, dedicated to the protection of wildlife and the preservation of habitats in East Africa.
Their mission is to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species
Though primarily based in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, Save the Elephants have projects across Africa focussing on radio-tracking elephants and community conservation carrying out rigorous studies of elephants, including elephant collaring and more recently, sophisticated elephant tracking techniques
Creating access to clean drinking water is one of the most powerful ways to improve the world. The Safe Water for Schools Initiative introduces sustainable, non-invasive means to acquire clean water for Maasai students in Kenya.
So far, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy has provided the LifeStraw community filter, a high-volume water purifier designed to deliver safe drinking water, to eleven Maasai schools.
The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is situated in the remote Mathews Range, among Kenya’s second largest elephant population. It takes in orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining the Sanctuary. This is the result of a widely recognised and expanding grassroots movement of community-driven conservation across northern Kenya; a movement that is growing new economies, transforming lives and conserving natural resources.
While elephant poaching elsewhere in Africa continues at unsustainable rates, as highlighted in the recent Great Elephant Census, the proportion of illegally killed elephants in NRT member community conservancies has fallen 53% since 2012. Nevertheless, there are still elephant calves orphaned or abandoned resulting from a variety of instances that include poaching, man made wells, drought, human-wildlife conflict and natural mortality.
It is estimated between five and ten elephant calves are rescued in north Kenya each year, from a population of an estimated 8,700. The Sanctuary was established in response to demands from the local community, who recognize wildlife as an opportunity to improve livelihoods.
The Northern Rangelands Trust supports 39 community conservancies across northern and coastal Kenya. Together, we are changing the game; supporting communities to govern their wild spaces, identify and lead development projects, build sustainable economies linked to conservation, spearhead peace efforts to mend years of conflict, and shape government regulations to support it all.
As institutions, community conservancies not only give people a voice, but provide a platform for developing sustainable enterprise and livelihoods either directly or indirectly related to conservation.
NRT member community conservancies work to conserve wildlife and sustainably manage the grassland, forest, river and marine ecosystems upon which livelihoods depend.
Because of poverty and lack of role models, many kids in Nairobi are forced to drop out of school and raise themselves on the streets from an early age.
A life characterized by crime, hustle, violence, drugs and unemployment is status quo. Nai Nami represents an innovative solution to grant youths with seemingly no foreseeable future a full-time job and a stable income by building on their street skills and life stories.
No one else has better street skills, insights and stories to share about Nairobi than former street kids. This encounter is a unique opportunity to get inspired by people from a different world. It will not only change your own life, but you’ll also contribute to giving your guides something they never had before: purpose, employment and a future.
Lwala catalyzes communities to tackle the multi-dimensional drivers of poor health
Lwala believes communities hold the key to addressing their own health challenges. Lwala connects community initiatives with the research prowess of the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health to prove that bottom-up solutions can drive sustained, systemic change. These key values guide their team, and all of their work: community-driven, excellence, dignity, innovation, integrity, and neighborliness.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, based at the foothills of Mount Kenya, works as a model and catalyst for the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. Lewa does this through the protection and management of species, the initiation and support of community conservation and development programmes, and the education of neighbouring areas in the value of wildlife.
For the last three decades, Lewa’s practices have resulted in thriving black rhino habitat and population, which in turn has created a robust ecosystem for a multitude of species including the endangered Grevy’s zebra, elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe and more. Lewa envisions a future where people across Kenya value, protect and benefit from wildlife. This future depends on communities being able to derive their day-to-day livelihoods in ways that are compatible with thriving wildlife habitat. As a result, Lewa invests heavily in the livelihoods of neighbors through programmes in education, healthcare, water, micro-enterprise, youth empowerment and more.
As a catalyst and champion of this model that puts people at the centre of conservation, Lewa has influenced and supported the conservancy management for both private and community lands across northern Kenya.
The founders of Kibera Creative Arts had two passions: Arts and Community. From the combination of both elements emerged the idea of creating an organization that would help the community thrive in the arts field by providing sufficient affordable resources to allow the multiple talents to thrive. Consequently, Kibera Creative Arts was born in 2016 as a hopeful initiative from and for the community.
Guided by the Swahili proverb: “Sanaa ni kioo cha jamii” which translates to “Art is the reflection of the community”. Kibera Creative Arts (KiCA) is a Community Based Organization that is aimed at empowering Kibera through Arts. Our focus is to reduce the existing barriers to unleashing different artistic potentials of the community members by providing with a solid artistic platform.
See Kibera Arts Center Featured in Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Kenya
Neighboring Lewa, Borana and Lekurruki, Il Ngwesi covers 16,500 hectares and is home to the Il Lakipiak Maasai – ‘people of wildlife’. Truly special, this award winning enterprise combines eco-tourism with sustainable environmental management and community development.
Profits from the lodge, donations from well-wishers and partnerships with local and international NGOs all support a range of community projects while at the same time ensure that the environment is managed sustainably. The model helps to foster communities that value wildlife and see purpose in acting as custodians of the land. Crucially, Il Ngwesi is one of 33 conservancies that are supported by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and that collectively cover 440,000 square kilometers. As well as providing a large and secure environment for wildlife populations to live and migrate to and from, the NRT supports communities to develop and benefit from tourism.
This managed land mass is particularly important for the conservation of endangered species including the African Lion, African Wild Dog, and African Elephant as well as some species found only in northern Kenya such as the Grevy Zebra.
The Grevy’s zebra is one of Africa’s most endangered large mammals and is the rarest of Africa’s three different species of zebra. They have undergone the most substantial reduction in their rangelands of any African mammal and habitat loss remains the most serious and widespread threat to their species.
The Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) was founded in 2007 to help conserve and protect the remaining 2,500 individuals of this unique species. Despite being a small, independent wildlife trust, the GZT works in an area covering over 10,000 square kilometres across northern Kenya. It is the only organisation focused solely on saving the Grevy’s zebra, which it does through population monitoring, education and community outreach programmes, protection against poachers and habitat restoration.
Ewaso Lions is dedicated to conserving lions and other large carnivores by promoting coexistence between people and wildlife.
Ewaso Lions is an independent 100% African wildlife conservation organisation based in northern Kenya which engages and builds the capacity of key demographic groups (warriors, women, and children) by developing approaches to reduce human-carnivore conflict. They conduct applied research and work with the local communities to address ecological problems. They also carry out educational initiatives to reinforce traditionally held beliefs and the evolving culture of wildlife conservation across the landscape.
The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) was set up in 1979 to protect the last remaining Rothschild’s giraffes in Kenya. At the time there were only 80 surviving individuals in the country. Thanks to their tireless hard work this number has now risen to over 600. One of the centre’s main missions today is to educate Kenyan school children about their country’s incredible wildlife and environment.
The AFEW Giraffe Centre is located next to Giraffe Manor and runs the breeding programme of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe that we are privileged to be a part of. Since AFEW was founded, wild Rothschild’s giraffe numbers have risen from 100 to around 1,800. and over 50 giraffes have been returned to the wild including Margaret, Jock and Waridi who went to Mwea National Reserve in 2018. Guests of Giraffe Manor can stroll across the front lawn of the house to visit the AFEW centre, which allows visitors to feed the giraffe from a specially built platform. There is information on display about giraffe conservation in Kenya, as well as a short nature walk and gift shop, proceeds of which go towards giraffe conservation in Kenya.
We’re excited to see African countries safely reopening and welcoming international travelers back to their borders. With a careful understanding of new protocols and entry requirements, it may be a great time for some travelers to take advantage of a safari in the near-term over the next 3-9 months.
Some considerations for travel in the near term
- Uncrowded parks & nearly-exclusive wildlife viewing and trekking
- Great value especially during the green season
- Plenty of availability at preferred camps
- Guides and camp staff are eagerly awaiting guests
- Camps can pull out all the stops with upgrades and added value experiences
- Your presence safeguards wildlife and benefits community programs in the areas you visit
- Navigating flight and airport protocols is more onerous and uncertain
- Countries have implemented advanced health screenings and entry requirements
- Reduced options for multi-country itineraries
- Some camps and domestic flights have not yet resumed operations
- Travel insurance policies vary by provider and specific coverage and benefits can be unclear
The following countries have now opened their borders with responsible Covid protocols, and commercial international flights have resumed:
Kenya – Rwanda – Tanzania – Zambia
Tips for developing an itinerary in the coming months
- Single country itineraries are key
- Reduce interactions with other guests through:
- Less moving around in country
- Longer stays at fewer camps
- Private charters for transfers
- Families or groups of friends can take advantage of exclusive-use of camps, lodges and safari villas.
- Get familiar with the risks associated with air travel
- Review the specific health protocols at the camps. Some examples below.
The camps and communities in these destinations have done an incredible amount of work to sustain vital services in the absence of tourism and to prepare for the resumption of tourism through extensive staff training and implementation of stringent new protocols.
Here are some favorite achievements and messages from our colleagues who are keen to welcome guests back to their countries:
Epic 350km fundraising walk in the Luangwa Valley
Zambia Migration Safari in December 2020 is on!
Enhanced health protocols at safari camps and lodges:
Safaris are inherently a lower risk travel option as good quality safari experiences steer clear of crowds and offer intimate camps, small professional teams and wide open spaces. However, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to design and implement the highest health and safety protocols. Here’s a few examples:
“This was my best vacation EVER. I’d gladly try another safari.” — Eric
I’d like to start by saying that this was my best vacation ever! We had great accommodations, great guides, great food and good weather. I’m glad we went to three different places. Of the three I liked Lewa best because it had a little bit of everything and had more activities.
HERE ARE SOME OF ERIC’S PHOTOS FROM LEWA
Eric’s HIGH-POINTS OF THE TRIP
- The cats in the Masai Mara
- The Walking Safari in Lewa
- The trip to the waterfall in Lewa (pictured below)
- All the elephants
- The sundowners (Michelle & Eric enjoying one here to the left)
- All the meals (FANTASTIC!)
The local team in Nairobi was above and beyond GREAT. They held our extra bag and helped with everything. The hotel staff at all three lodges was very sociable. They were always there mingling with the guests. Our guides worked much harder than the other guides that we came upon to be sure we saw everything. They kept hunting for game, often for 6 hours. Let me reiterate, this was my best vacation EVER. I’d gladly try another safari.
MORE OF ERIC’S PHOTOS
The Kazuri Story
Lady Susan Wood
Kazuri Founder – Lady Susan Wood had humble beginnings. Born (1918) in a mud hut in an African village, her parents were missionaries from England in the Ituri Forest. Lady Wood was sent to England in order to be educated and ended up marrying Michael Wood, a surgeon. They came to Kenya in 1947 and became dedicated to making a difference. Lady Wood started a coffee plantation on the Karen Blixen estate, famous from the award winning movie “Out of Africa” , which is at the foot of the Ngon’g Hills (about 30 minutes from the bustling Nairobi city center in Kenya). Lady Wood was a visionary and unsung hero of her time. She assisted her husband in founding the East African Flying Doctor Service, which expanded into the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) of which Michael Wood was Director General for 29 years. Michael Wood was knighted in 1985.
Kazuri Beads Origins
In 1975, Lady Wood set up a fledging business making beads in a small shed in her back garden. She started by hiring two disadvantaged women, and quickly realized that there were many more women who were in need of jobs. Henceforth, Kazuri Beads was created and began its long and successful journey as a help center for the needy women, especially single mothers who had no other source of income. In 1988, Kazuri became a factory and expanded hugely to include over 120 women and men. Here, women are trained and apply their skills to produce unique and beautiful beads and jewelry. The beads are made with clay from the Mt Kenya area, thus giving authenticity to the craft. The factory acts as a social gathering with the hum of voices continuing vibrating throughout the day. With unemployment so high, one jobholder often ends up providing for an “extended family” of 20 or more. Kazuri is a member of the Fair Trade Act.
Kazuri Beads Present Day
Today, Kazuri (the Swahili word for ‘small and beautiful’) produces a wide range of hand made and painted ceramic jewelry that shines with a kaleidoscope of African colors. Kazuri’s beautifully finished products are made to an international standard and are sold worldwide. These standards are maintained through high training regimens and a highly motivated management team.
In 2001, Mark and Regina Newman bought the company. Their goal is to further increase the size and maintain the central guiding philosophy … to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan Society.