Northern Kenya Rangelands and Beyond

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Community Action

Tribal leaders and community land managers are working together to conserve more than 2 million acres of communal lands.


Eastern and southern Africa’s grasslands and savannas have been shaped over millions of years by volcanoes, seasonal droughts and fires, millions of grazing animals, and human activities.

The acacia-studded savannas of Kenya still harbor an abundance of large mammals found nowhere else on Earth.

However, Kenya’s life-giving lands are under pressure. In the semi-arid north, pastoralist communities struggle with frequent droughts, degraded grasslands, and the threats posed by cattle rustling and ivory poaching. On the coast, communities struggle to sustainably manage the fisheries that thousands of families depend on.

Development is coming, too. “Vision 2030” aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country that provides a high quality of life to all its citizens. The responsibility of balancing this economic growth with the integrity of the grasslands, forests, and marine ecosystems that support it, now rests increasingly on community and private landowners.

By supporting partners on the ground, connecting leading scientists to those with powerful local knowledge, and enhancing and enabling national government policies, TNC aims to empower communities to take charge of their resources in the face of unpredictable economic, political, or environmental conditions.


In Kenya's northern rangelands, we are using our collaborative approach to support the development of conservation agreements with local communities and landowners. Working with established local conservation partners such as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) to build community capacity in governance, natural resource management, and sustainable enterprises.

With TNC’s support over the last several years, NRT has seen rapid growth and expansion into new areas. Currently, 33 groups have formed “community wildlife conservancies” (protected areas on communally held lands), benefiting more than 480,000 people and protecting 10.8 million acres of land. These conservancies include a number of different ethnic groups, including Samburu, Maasai, Borana, Turkana, Pokot, and others. 

NRT's commercial arm, NRT-Trading, is bringing economic opportunities to local communities. The Livestock to Markets (LivestockWORKS) program purchases cattle from pastoralists who employ sustainable grazing practices, transports them to quarantine areas, and fattens them for sale in the Nairobi market. The BeadWORKS program empowers more than 1,200 to diversify their income through beaded handicrafts. And the OceanWORKS pilot project is providing fishermen with the tools and resources they need to fish in deeper waters — reducing the pressure on near-shore reefs — and connecting them to urban markets.


The Nature Conservancy’s vision for Africa is rooted in providing a seat at the table for the people who have historically not been part of planning for Kenya’s future. In the last several years, TNC has worked to support the development of organizations that give voice to communities and can help inform national policies.

KWCA: The Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) was established in 2013 with support from TNC and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to give a voice to conservancy landowners and regional conservation associations and currently works with 140 private and community conservancies across 25 counties in Kenya. With support from TNC, the KWCA was a significant lobbying force for the 2013 Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Act the 2016 Community Land Act.

MMWCA: The Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) is a new membership body for the landowners in 1,300 square kilometers surrounding the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. In 2014, TNC supported MMWCA to develop a conservation action plan to overcome these challenges to sustainable growth, through wildlife conservation, sustainable enterprise, and improved conservancy governance. In 2015, TNC helped MMWCA secure a USD $4.1 million grant.



Together with dedicated conservation partners, national governments, and with your support, we aim to help protect more than 15 million acres of private and communal lands across Kenya. In the process, we will cultivate hope and opportunity with the people who live in these places where the land moves on forever.




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