Kenya: Big Life Foundation

Location: Chyulu Hills, in the north-east of the Tsavo ecosystem
Programme leader: Richard Bonham
Programme partners: Big Life Foundation / the Kenya Wildlife Service
Rhino species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli)
Size of protected area: 926 926 km2
Activities: Anti-poaching and monitoring patrols, rhino dung DNA analysis, reafforestation programme, Predator Compensation Fund, education bursaries and mobile health clinic
SRI's Support: We focus on the Game Scout and Rhino programme, helping to pay for salaries, vehicle fuel and running costs, and camping and monitoring equipment
Funding partners: Chester Zoo, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Amnéville Zoo, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust

Introduction

Big Life Foundation seeks to conserve and sustain the wildlife and the wild lands of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem of East Africa through innovative conservation strategies that address the greatest threats while - at the same time - satisfying the economic interests of the resident Maasai people in ways that improve the quality of life for the entire community.

Big Life protect a small but important population of Eastern black rhino which survive in the Chyulus Hills, to the north of Tsavo West National Park. These rhinos represents one of the last wild populations in Kenya (most rhino today are kept in fenced sanctuaries), and its survival is key if there is to be any hope for the future of this species in the wild. Big Life runs a Game Scout and Rhino programme who together with the Kenya Wildlife Service, provide 24-hour security for the small about extremely important population of elusive black rhino. Read more about the programme here and the work SRI does with them. 

Programme staff

Richard Bonham (Chair, the Maasailand Preservation Trust) (MPT); Samar Ntalamia (Programme Manager)

Location

Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya, and the adjacent Mbirikani Group Ranch. These lie to the north of Tsavo East National Park and form part of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. The below map shows the area that Big Life work to protect.

BLF AWF MPT outposts

Species / population size

Please note that the size of individual populations is confidential. The Chyulu Hills population has Critically Endangered Eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and is one of two native populations surviving (all others are reintroduced). This population is therefore important for genetic diversity and is one of the few unfenced populations of D.b. michaeli in Kenya.

Habitat

About 80% of the Chyulus’ black rhinos’ home range is inside the National Park, an area of 741 km2. The other 20% of their range is outside the Park, on Mbirikani Group Ranch, a Maasai cattle ranch comprising collectively owned land, nestled between the Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West National Parks and the Amboseli Reserve. The total rhino area is 1,195km² (187km² on Mbirikani, 741km² Chyulu NP and another 267km²).

The Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya is a long range of volcanic hills that acts as a crucial water catchment area for wildlife, livestock and neighboring communities, and provides shelter and food for a high concentration and diversity of wildlife, including threatened species such as elephant, cheetah, leopard, African wild dog and giant forest hog.

Read more about the activities Big Life does here.

Visiting the Chyulus

The place to stay is Ol Donyo Wuas.