Africa still contains large intact natural ecosystems and a spectacular diversity of wildlife, including some of world’s last significant populations of terrestrial mega fauna. But the future of wildlife across the African continent is severely threatened by changing patterns of land-use and a surge in illegal hunting associated with a large and growing population of poor people with limited livelihood options based on a diminishing resource base. Similar challenges confront wildlife and their habitats throughout the world. Conventional tools for wildlife conservation, such as the creation of national parks, are often not effective under these circumstances. Nor is the protected area approach which has proven to be dependent upon continued outside funding and which often excludes local people from resources critical for their survival - a socially acceptable option in the modern era. New conservation models are needed if wildlife is to have a future in modern Africa. Such models must align the needs of wildlife with the needs of people. A unique opportunity exists to create a platform for developing such models, creating a future for an entire ecosystem and providing living laboratory that can shape conservation action across the African continent. That opportunity is Laikipia in north central Kenya.
An emerging and growing area of focus for Space for Giants is to work with local communities in Laikipia to secure “rights of passage” for elephants and the wildlife that shares this range. To this end we aim to support efforts to create space for wildlife across a range of different land ownership and management regimes. How are we doing this?
First we are developing a conservation strategy for Laikipia County. This is the first of its kind in East Africa and provides a framework for conservation action, pulling together a diverse array of stakeholders and partners behind a single vision. We hope and expect this strategy to provide a model for how to undertake conservation planning in other landscapes across the continent. For more information on Laikipia’s conservation strategy, read here
We are in negotiations to create our first wildlife conservancy in Laikipia County. If successful, this conservancy will involve the purchase of private land for public benefit with ownership and management structured to create a stable environment for investment, creating sustainable funding for conservation and community support while also fulfilling political imperatives. This is all critical for building long term support for conservation in the modern era. Once created, this conservancy will provide an operational platform for Space for Giants to work in the wider region with a view to putting in place plans and agreements with land owners and land users to enable conservation compatible land use, benefiting both people and wildlife.