Kenya’s rich wildlife is found both inside protected areas and outside on community land. These community lands are equally critical havens for wildlife, dispersal areas and corridors connecting wildlife areas.
One of the major threats facing wildlife conservation is loss of habitat due to land use changes including agriculture, settlement and development. Presence of wildlife on community land often causes human wildlife conflict which becomes a burden to the community. When communities are not able to realize economic value from wildlife on their land, that land easily becomes converted to other land use opportunities leading to loss of wildlife areas. Wildlife on community land has great potential of revenue generation and wealth creation to the local community through employment, business enterprises and development of rural economies. The loss of these great community wildlife reservoirs equals lost opportunities to the local community.
Mbulia Group Ranch is one of the 28 ranches that form the Taita ranches. The ranch neighbors the Eastern boundary of Tsavo East National park and adjoins the southern side of the Upper Tsavo West segment. The ranch is the most critical dry season habitat and migratory corridor for wildlife in the Tsavo Conservation Area. Human wildlife conflict was very high in the area resulting in great losses for the local community. Amara Conservation has worked with the Mbulia community to help them develop a community conservancy that will help them reap benefits from wildlife and preserve this important wildlife habitat. In December 2011, following five years of community work by Amara Conservation and local leaders, the community agreed to set aside 11,400 acres of Mbulia Group Ranch as a conservancy. We helped link them with an investor and after discussion and negotiation they entered a lease agreement with the investor. Today the Mbulia Wilderness Trust (MWT) is up and functioning, with a Headquarters and seven full-time game scouts, operated and monitored through conservation fees provided by the 8-bedroom lodge, Kipalo Hills (completed in December of 2012). Amara Conservation has continuously played an active role to ensure smooth running of the conservancy. Our aim is to help ensure security of the conservancy, improve the conservancy infrastructure, help build capacity to manage the conservancy, improve governance, reduce human wildlife conflict and help develop environmentally and economically sustainable livelihoods for the local community.
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.
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