Thriving Together: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Increasing Well-Being for Animals and People

Published: 06 November 2019
Last edited: 05 October 2020
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Amboseli National Park is home to some of Kenya’s largest elephant populations. However, the park is small and the elephants require surrounding community lands to fulfill their needs. In 2008, local stakeholders recognized that habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation would lead to the loss of livelihoods and tourism revenue and opted to ensure the ecosystem’s sustainability. IFAW therefore partnered with relevant stakeholders to secure critical corridors and dispersal areas for elephants in community areas of the Amboseli landscape. To achieve this, IFAW implemented a multi-year commitment to secure 26,000 acres as wildlife migratory and dispersal land in the Amboseli landscape.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Grassland ecosystems
Rangeland / Pasture
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Land management
Local actors
Poaching and environmental crime
Sustainable livelihoods
Erratic rainfall
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 15 – Life on land
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Kenya | Amboseli National Park and surrounding community land
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The Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya is home to Kenya’s largest elephant populations (estimated 2,000) but it cannot support its ecological needs alone. Elephants and other wildlife depend on the surrounding 5,700 kilometers squared of Maasai community land for dispersal and spend up to 80 percent of their time on these community ranches. Specifically, the elephants use thecommunity group ranches as crucial corridors for migration to other protected areas such as Tsavo to the north in Kenya and Kilimanjaro Park to the south in Tanzania. However, in 2008, the main stakeholders and owners of the land – the Maasai group ranches that surround the Park – and the Kenyan government – through its parastatal the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as custodians of the Park – recognized that the threat of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation would lead to the loss of livelihoods and revenue from tourism. All issues that IFAW decided to address in this project.



Aside from wildlife and its habitat, the beneficiaries are the community members of the Olgulului Olalarashi Group Rance who have benefited through employment of community rangers, annual land lease fees, and provision of education scholarships.

How do the building blocks interact?

Incorporating community input in a structured and profound way has led to unique interventions tailored for this specific community and interventions that are sustainable and popular among the community. Therefore, the establishment of the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) 2008-2018 has allowed the separation of land use areas for conservation, livestock grazing, farming, and settlement, with the hopes to facilitate human-wildlife conflict mitigation. By securing the Kitenden Corridor, IFAW is helping establish a community conservancy that helps protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of the Amboseli ecosystem while reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss. Through the mapping of wildlife corridors, settlement areas, and potential wildlife threats, the project has secured 26,000 acres of wildlife migratory routes and corridors as well as dispersal areas for the benefit wildlife. This not only benefits the local wildlife, it also has allowed the sustainable development of the community because it also manages the land areas used for farming, settlements, facilities, among others, thus, creating an opportunity for the community to further develop capacity, economic growth and work opportunities.


The Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) 2008-2018, was developed after the primary stakeholders of the land recognized that the threat of wildlife and habitat loss was intertwined with the local community’s wellbeing. Specifically, the AEMP separates land use areas for conservation, livestock grazing, farming, and settlement, with the hopes of facilitating human-wildlife conflict mitigation. As of today, Amboseli is the only ecosystem in Kenya with an official management plan. Another intervention – to provide clean water access for humans, livestock, and wildlife – was developed to further prevent wildlife-related injuries and deaths. In September 2012, IFAW conducted research and helped the county secure funding to rehabilitate the Northern Water Pipeline, which supplies water to communities living in the north of Amboseli. When the project is completed in 2019, it is expected to reliably provide water to 300 homesteads, 3,000 people, and more than 6,000 herds of livestock. By rehabilitating the pipeline, the project ensures availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation for the Maasai community, and thus, reducing human-elephant conflict due to water access.



Through almost 200 women and counting, IFAW is changing the face of conservation. For the first time, the women in the Maasai community feel included in community affairs regarding wildlife conservation – something that was the preserve of men in times gone by. The Maasai community and indeed most traditional settings in Kenya are largely patriarchal. Women are hardly-ever consulted or involved in leadership and decision-making. Time is however slowly changing this as it has become evident that they have a lot to offer.

In the village called Kitirua, almost 200 women have self-organized to form a community group known as the Enduata Kitirua group – Enduata is "vision" in the Maa language; while Kitirua is the village they come from. The group was officially registered in early 2018 and has become an avenue for the women to earn a living through sale of beadwork. They have also started a business to supply, at a profit, community ranger bases with monthly supplies. They are using the proceeds to educate two girls from economically disadvantaged families. According to surveys, these women now see wildlife for its benefit and not as a nuisance stating that wildlife are a tourist attraction and they know that one elephant can educate 100 children through tourism proceeds. The beadwork and supplies businesses have also provided an income for the women to purchase solar-generated hand-held lanterns which they use around the homesteads to not only provide lighting but also keep wildlife away during the night – leading to less cases of predation on livestock. With most of the women never went to school, there is an urgent need for them to be educated on the English or Swahili names of wildlife so that they can effectively communicate them to wildlife rangers who do not speak the Maa language. Plans are under way to partner with the Ministry of Education to translate the names of wildlife from Maa to English and Swahili. 

Contributed by

Lisa Kubotera International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw)