Kenya’s Park boundaries were gazetted beginning in 1948. After Independence in 1963, the Kenyan Government put rules in place to stop people from entering the National Parks and the Game Department was set to uphold those laws. Prior to this time, in most places, care for the wildlife and environment had been under the control of strict systems of Elders. Some of the communities had had shrines that ended up inside the Parks after the boundary demarcation, and they were not allowed to access these special places. Anyone found in the park was beaten and taken to court, sometimes people only suspected to be involved in poaching were arrested in their homes. This continued for a long time.
A very bad attitude developed among the communities around the Parks and they influenced people in urban areas to feel the same way. Communities became hostile to the Game Department officers and rangers. The work of the rangers was extended to the Kenya Wildlife Service, as the department was renamed in 1989, and people felt that they continued beating and arresting suspects.
This bad attitude towards the rangers among the communities was also extended to wild animals. People began hating the rangers and wild animals, and this attitude was accelerated by the poor wildlife act, which was only written for the protection of wildlife. Communities felt that the government had taken away their wildlife and they could not see any benefits.
This hostility between Kenya Wildlife Service, wildlife and the communities who border the parks, continued for a long time.
Amara Conservation began with a different perspective towards conservation of our wildlife; with a goal to bridge the gap between whole groups of people and wildlife by engaging the communities to participate in Conservation for their mutual benefit. Amara Conservation is doing this through educating the entire about the importance of wildlife and conservation, by showing Conservation education films in local languages, and holding talks and forums about the importance of Wildlife.
Amara Conservation became the first organization in Tsavo, that solely engage, involve, and work with the communities towards conservation of wildlife. As Nelson Mandela, said “education is the only tool which can be used to change the world”, and education is power. Amara Conservation by educating the entire community, has helped change the attitudes of many towards conservation. Mbulia Group Ranch/ Mbulia Conservancy is our testimony that education is power, because our conservation education has empowered most of the communities and some have started projects which are environmental friendly. Another example is Sowene in Taveta, who transformed from a very experienced poacher to now a motorcycle taxi driver after our programs helped him see the value of protecting wildlife. We believe our efforts in providing conservation education in the communities will help change the attitudes and most communities will turn to become conservationists in the near future.
The Tsavo West National Park is a section of one of the largest wildlife conservancies on the planet, as well as one of Kenya’s largest wildlife national parks. It is well-known for its resident population of Red Elephants as well as the tale of the Tsavo Man-eaters. Unfortunately, most of the communities bordering these parks have never had a chance to visit them due to the cost. For these reasons Amara organizes game drives with Purdue University students each year into Tsavo West National Park. We also encourage children to form Wildlife Clubs and embrace their wildlife and environment. This year Mrabenyi Secondary School in Taita Taveta County had the opportunity to tour the vast Park and interact with the University students from USA.
tHistorically, the Tsavo Area is renowned for the Man-eaters of Tsavo, two mane-less lions who developed a taste to prey on humans back in the early 1900’s (various reasons are cited for this, one recently being that they suffered from tooth decay and pain that made hunting difficult for them!). Although they were later shot, they killed many people that were constructing the railway line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi. Additionally, it was the main battlefield between the Germans and the Britons in Africa in the course of World War I. Currently the area is very peaceful and is now famous for its resident Red-colored Elephants, that enjoy dust-bathing in the red colored soil. The serene environment of Tsavo comes mainly with thorny bushland, open grasslands and among the most beautiful scenic areas are; the Yatta plateau, the World’s longest lava flow stretching 290km; Mzima springs; Shetani Lava Flow; Chaimu Hill; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.