Kenya: Laikipia Wildlife Forum

Location
KENYA

Summary

Location: Laikipia District, just north of Mt Kenya and straddling the Equator
Programme leader: Mordecai Ogada – Executive Director
Programme partner: Laikipia Wildlife Forum
Rhino species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli), Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
Size of protected area: 9,500 km2, part of the 25,000 km2 Ewaso ecosystem
Activities: Community conservation programme, Environmental Education programme, wildlife management, security and tourism development
Support: We focus on the LWF’s Community Conservation and Environmental education and Eco Literacy programmes in local communities, which show that conservation can improve livelihoods and be economically viable, as well as educating schoolchildren about the importance of conservation
Funding partners: Chester Zoo, Peaks Foundation, USFWS

Introduction

The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) was created in 1992 to address the issues in the Laikipia District (see habitat, below) by initiating positive impact. Its motto “Conservation in action” reflects the spirit of this pioneering community conservation association. The Forum is committed to bettering the lives of people in the area through supporting and generating livelihoods, while securing dependable, sustained access to essential natural resources. As a dynamic, membership-led conservation organisation, LWF provides a platform for dialogue for a cross-section of land owners and land users including local community groups, private ranchers, pastoralists, small scale farmers and tourism ventures.

Programme managers

Mordecai Ogado (Executive Director), Josephat Musyima (Community Conservation Programme Manager), Sammy Njoroge (Environmental and Eco-Literacy Programme Officer).

Location

The Laikipia District is located northwest of Mount Kenya, straddling the equator at the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley Province.

Species / population size

A black rhino in the Laikipia DistrictCredit: Save the Rhino International

The Laikipia District is home to approximately 289 Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli), which represents 45% of Kenya’s national population, and 37% of the total subspecies’ African population, 226 Southern white rhinos and 4 Northern white rhinos. Black and white rhinos are held across several private and community conservancies, and are actively managed as a metapopulation through the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (see other page). Please note that individual population sizes are confidential.

Habitat

The Laikipia District spans an area of 9,500km sq, and is part of the wider 25,000km sq Ewaso ecosystem. None of this land has formal National Park or Reserve status; it is either under community or individual title instead. Nevertheless, the Laikipia District represents one of Kenya’s most important wildlife areas, with the most diversity and highest number of endangered mammals such as the Rothschild giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest and African wild dog. It is also home to over half of Kenya’s Critically Endangered black rhino, which makes the District of particular interest to Save the Rhino International.

Kenya’s population is increasing at rate of 2.8% per year, creating conflicts in land and resource use options, in particular between humans and wildlife. Laikipia’s population is 400,000 and is one of the poorest in Kenya. Communities have suffered from droughts and extreme rains in recent years. Laikipia’s wildlife population is also rising, compared to the declining trend elsewhere in the country. Increased human and wildstock populations, coupled with inappropriate agricultural and settlement practices (intensified cultivation, expansion of cultivated land, overgrazing, harvesting of fuel wood, charcoal burning, inappropriate irrigation) contribute towards environmental degradation and a breakdown of ecosystem services. This in turn leads to major problems such as deforestation, acute water shortages, loss of biological diversity and soil erosion; as well as deterioration of life support systems, including air, water and land.

Primary activities

Cattle grazing using holistic management techniques, with cattle kept bunched togetherCredit: Save the Rhino International

The LWF seeks to meet its mission through the primary objectives of the maintenance of ecosystem integrity and processes; the establishment and development of community conservation projects in wildlife dispersal landscapes; and the development of conservation enterprises. These objectives are being realised through several core operational programmes:

  • Conservation Enterprise
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Tourism Sector Support
  • Environmental Education & Eco Literacy
  • Peace & Security
  • Rangeland Rehabilitation
  • Rivers & Wetlands
  • Forest Management

Research

The Community Conservation Programme (CCP) carries out a wide range of research, aimed at testing practical solutions to environmental issues, e.g. water capture methods, irrigation, reafforestation etc.

Training

LWF staff regularly go on training courses, and in turn provide training via workshops etc for the community groups with which they work.

Education

The Environmental education and Eco-Literacy Programme (EELP). The LWF hopes that by encouraging involvement through environmental education, the next generation of responsible, committed Kenyans will work for the sustained conservation of the Laikipia ecosystem. The great majority of Kenyan children have never seen wildlife in their natural environment, despite living in a country with rich wildlife resources and an economy that relies so heavily on wildlife tourism.

Thus LWF sees one of its key roles to raise awareness of environmental issues and provide environmental education services, which supplement but do not duplicate the National Curriculum, to schoolchildren in the Laikipia District.

The programme is lead by a dedicated EELP Manager, Sammy Njoroge, who is supported by an EELP Assistant, Jackson Njaria. They deliver innovative and fun lectures and field trips to approximately 3,200 schoolchildren and 250 teachers and adults each year from over 130 schools in the District. The programme covers an area of about 10,000 sq km of rural and remote Kenya using a 25-seat converted lorry, the now famous and very popular Environmental Education Bus. Many of Kenya’s community wildlife projects now use the Forum’s successful model.

Community

The Laikipia Wildlife Forum's Community conservation work particularly targets disadvantaged groups, including womenCredit: Andrew Gell

Through the Community Conservation Programme, the LWF reaches over 300,000 people in the Laikipia District every year.

Monitoring and evaluation

Very high standard, through Participatory Impact Monitoring and other grant reporting requirements.

History of SRI’s involvement

SRI has helped fund the core costs of the Community Conservation Programme since its inception in January 2002, as well as the core costs of the Environmental education and Eco-Literacy Programme. We have also recruited further donor support from Chester Zoo, USFWS, Peaks Foundation, the Body Shop Foundation and other trusts. As well as covering salaries, transport, communications etc for LWF core staff, SRI also raised the funds for the very first EELP bus in 2003 and for the replacement bus in 2011. SRI staff members have visited the LWF many times over the years.

Funding needs / budget etc

Overall LWF budget not known. SRI can provide details of annual core costs; but projects are budgeted for separately.

Other funders

The LWF does a lot of its own fundraising, e.g. from the Royal Netherlandish Embassy, USAID and from its own membership. Chester Zoo has provided financial and technical support to the EELP and financial support to the CCP.

Programme sustainability

CCP staff raise approximately 1.6 million euros per year for project costs (forests, water, soil etc); however, the LWF finds it hard to raise funds to cover the staff salaries.

Visiting Laikipia

Wildlife-based tourism now contributes significantly to Kenya’s GNP, bringing scope for development and economic growth. This presents a great challenge for the future, with the need to harmonise the conflicting issues and ensure fair resource allocation and sustainable development.

The Laikipia District has an extremely large number / variety of accommodation options from basic camping to high-end luxury lodges. Further information can be found at www.laikipiatourism.com Tourist facilities close to LWF head office (based at Nanyuki Airstrip, three hours’ drive from Nairobi or 1-hour flight) include The Sportsman’s Arms Hotel or Mount Kenya Safari Club.