Integrating livestock and wildlife to reduce land degradation, enhance biodiversity and conservation

Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Publié: 04 octobre 2021
Dernière modification: 04 octobre 2021
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Ol Pejeta (OPC) is a private non-profit conservancy, registered Protected Area, and IUCN Green Listed. It is home to the largest population of Critically Endangered black rhino in E.Africa, the world’s last 2 northern white rhino and other Endangered species. OPC is in Laikipia County where rain-fed agriculture and livestock contribute >75% of household incomes.

This initiative challenges the traditional ‘either/or’ approach to conservation, demonstrating the benefits of integrating livestock with wildlife. Rather than setting aside land for conservation, the sustainable land management approach involves using cattle as a habitat management tool. Carefully managed grazing keeps rangeland healthy as well as ensuring land is productive. This additional revenue stream contributes critical income, all of which is reinvested in conservation and community development – extension services enhance livelihoods and resilience. The nature-based solution offers a model for conservation in areas where wildlife is usually not tolerated.


Afrique de l'Est et du Sud
Échelle de la mise en œuvre
Prairie tempérée, savane, maquis
Écosystème agricole
Écosystémes des prairies
Accès et partage des avantages
Adaptation au changement climatique
Financement durable
Fragmentation et la dégradtion de l'habitat
Gestion des terres
Gestion et Planification des Aires protégées et conservées
Services écosystèmiques
Précipitations erratiques
Dégradation des terres et des forêts
Perte de biodiversité
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Objectifs de Développement Durable
ODD 1 - Pas de pauvreté
ODD 2 - Faim "zéro"
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
Obectifs d'Aichi
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 5: Perte d'habitat réduite de moitié ou diminuée
Objectif 7: Agriculture, aquaculture et sylviculture durable
Objectif 8: Pollution réduite
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 15: Restauration et la résilience des écosystèmes
Objectif 16: Accès et le partage des avantages tirés des ressources génétiques


Laikipia, Kenya
Afficher sur Planète protégée


The main threats to biodiversity at the conservancy are considered in the context of the surrounding area, where the environmental, social, and economic challenges are inter-related:

  • Habitat loss from livestock encroachment. As human populations increase so does demand for land for settlement. Livestock encroachment increases the risk of human wildlife conflict and contributes to land degradation threatening wildlife and human livelihoods.
  • Reliance on rain-fed agriculture. Pastoralists and small-scale farmers are reliant on the rain. With climate change, increased periods of drought and erratic rainfall has reduced pasture and impacted crop productivity.
  • Limited livelihood opportunities. Livestock plays an important societal role which is further amplified with the limited availability of alternative livelihoods, particularly for women and youth.

A specific economic challenge for the conservancy is securing a sustainable and diverse income base – especially critical this year with the impact of COVID.


  • The c. 700 employees of Ol Pejeta who are part-funded through the income contribution the livestock and agriculture business makes to the conservancy.
  • The c. 35,000 people from the 20 pastoral and farming communities surrounding the conservancy.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Conservation success and the wellbeing of communities are inextricably linked. The building blocks reflect this. Block 1 (sustainable integrated land management) supports healthy habitats for wildlife on the conservancy whilst generating income that is invested in community development. Demonstration of this best practice approach in land and cattle management provides legitimacy when engaging with local communities on livestock matters as covered in Block 2. This complementary block (sustainable community livestock management) directly supports the livelihoods of communities whilst promoting sustainable natural resource management. This helps address key threats to biodiversity and generates support for conservation.

Les impacts positifs


  • Improved habitat for wildlife. The solution has helped transform a working cattle ranch into a flagship wildlife conservancy. Since implementation, rangeland quality has improved and significant increases in species populations have been noted. Ol Pejeta now supports the largest number of critically endangered eastern black rhino in E.Africa and many other endangered species. A healthy prey population also supports some of the highest predator densities recorded in E.Africa.


  • Empowering communities. Agriculture is the predominant sector for the rural communities surrounding Ol Pejeta. Livestock has both economic and cultural significance. We have showcased a model for land management that is productive and ecologically sustainable, demonstrating that the keeping of livestock does not need to come at the expense of wildlife.


  • Investment in conservation and community development. The livestock and agriculture business generates net 500,000 – 1m USD annually. This provides a critical source of revenue for Ol Pejeta that enables it to invest back in conservation and community development.
  • Enhanced livelihoods for communities. The purchase of community cattle and artificial insemination services has increased income for communities. Complementary livestock extension services have further increased productivity as well as improved understanding of natural resource management.


Revenue generated through the livestock and agriculture business provided a critical source of income to the Conservancy during COVID-19. In normal times, the Conservancy’s income is typically spread evenly across three sources – tourism, philanthropy and grants, and livestock and agriculture. With international and national tourism effectively halted, Ol Pejeta faced a c.2m USD operating deficit. We were forced to take significant cost cutting measures including redundancies, pay cuts, and a focus on critical operating costs only. Our zero poaching record was under threat. Even after these cuts, we faced an existential crisis. The livestock and agriculture business helped keep us operational from the sale of our ‘conservation beef’, fodder production and hay. Last year, it produced a record net contribution of just under 1m USD for the conservancy, almost double that of previous years. Without this income larger numbers of employees would likely have had to be made redundant and conservation and community programmes would have been severely compromised.


We are proud of the fact we are able to run a commercially profitable livestock business in a conservancy with lions and large herds of wild herbivores – a feat many would think impossible! This approach relies on our philosophy of working with, rather than against nature.

We believe this innovative approach to land regeneration and climate smart initiative can only work if it is profitable to the producer or operator, and we aim to keep proving that.

Contribué par

Kate Terriere Ol Pejeta Conservancy