Kenya is one of the last places left on Earth where elephants roam wild and free in natural rhythms. The earth’s richness is mirrored in the richness of the communities who have lived in harmony here for centuries
As populations have grown, peoples’ lifestyles have gone through changes from nomadic to semi-nomadic and settled. There are ever more permanent human settlement areas where people are working to grow crops, raise livestock – utilize the land to support themselves. In the areas around the Tsavo Conservation Area, this is often in what has always been wildlife corridors or seasonal habitats.
Many of the old ways simply don’t work anymore. The forests have been reduced to less than 2% of the land. With the loss of trees has come a further reduction in available water, which was always the limiting factor on the African savannah. Now, people often walk 15k/day just to get enough water to make meals. As people resort to agriculture, they find that the land is more often than not lacking in the nutrients necessary to grow crops. Most of the land in the Tsavo Conservation Area is not suitable for successful farming.
Increased population has put enormous pressure on lands that have always sustained the harmonious life of plants, animals and man. People need to learn new techniques. They need a new understanding of how their practices can enhance and save the environment upon which all life depends. But first they need to understand the problem, and realize that the solution depends upon them
According to a recent study 58-64% of the people living in our main focus area, the Taita Hills, live under the poverty line.
The upward trend of population growth started in the Taita Hills in the mid 1920’s. From a population of 40,000 in the early 1930’s, the district is now estimated to have over 300,000 inhabitants, of which about 42,000 are estimated to reside in urban areas.
To put it simply, people struggle to grow crops in dry land with bad soil. When they do get a crop, it’s often taken by elephant, baboons, other grazing wildlife. Water is scarce. Resources are in decline. There are no fallback methods in place to sustain a growing population. People must make changes in order to survive and thrive.
A report by The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) indicates that Tsavo National Park (East and West) is under siege from both lawlessness and the burgeoning needs of a restless and poverty-stricken local community (Willets, 2006). As a result of overexploitation, community apathy, human-wildlife conflict and the loss of key elephant migratory routes due to new farming settlements, Tsavo faces the risk of the gradual extermination of its wildlife population and the destruction of this critically important habitat .