BeadWORKS Hands hold beaded hearts made by Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading's BeadWORKS artisans in Kenya. © Roshni Lodhia

Stories in Africa

Community-Led Conservation Grows in Kenya

Community Conservancies Are Creating a Brighter Future for People, Wildlife, and Landscapes.

Joyce sings softly with other BeadWORKS artisans as she adds colorful beads to a new bracelet that will soon be for sale in a store halfway across the world. Amina fishes in deep water for the first time from a boat provided to her community-led women's fishery group. Johnson stands in front of dozens of landowners to discuss lease agreements that are creating large, unfenced areas for wildlife movement, tourism, and livestock management. All across Kenya, communities are benefiting from conservation and the natural resources around them. 



Community-Led Conservation Local communities have lived well with wildlife for many generations, but this is an increasingly threatened coexistence. That is why more than 100 groups of Kenyans have come together to register community conservancies under wildlife and land laws that help protect them. 

A community conservancy is land protected by a community for wildlife protection and other sustainable land uses that can lead to improved livelihoods. With 65 percent of Kenya's wildlife living outside of government-protected areas, conservancies provide critical habitat and connectivity for the iconic species that are the heart of the country's tourism industry. In 2019, tourism brought in about $1.5 billion to Kenya's economy. 

Today, conservancies are a recognised land use under the Wildlife Act of 2013, making them an attractive land use option for communities as they offer improved land and resource rights and access to incentives. Benefits from ecotourism and other enterprises are channeled to community development projects, including: increased access to education through new schools and scholarships, improved access to healthcare, improved and more sustainable grazing, leadership opportunities for women, and more.

Stripes Zebra in the Maasai Mara wildlife conservancy areas in southern Kenya. © Roshni Lodhia

There are more than 100 community conservancies across 15 million acres in Kenya—from the expansive northern rangelands to the Amboseli region along the Tanzanian border to the shoreline of the Indian Ocean. 

The Nature Conservancy has supported the community conservancy movement through direct support to organizations like Northern Rangelands Trust and by helping to establish the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association to inform national policy and increase coordination among individual conservation organizations.

More communities are eager for support to establish conservancies for themselves so that they can enjoy improved livelihoods and ensure that the next generation receives the same benefits from wildlife that they have now. 

See more stories, photos, and video from community conservancies across Kenya by follwoing #ConserveKE on social media.

Quote: Dickson Kaelo

“Kenya has sadly lost 68 percent of its wildlife in a short four decades. At this rate, we will have nothing to hand over to our next generation. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to change this."

Director of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA).