A collaborative and flexible model allows Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association (TTWCA) to strategically work with partners to conserve the biodiversity-rich Tsavo ecosystem and enhance livelihoods through our work, which cuts across five focus areas.
The TTWCA rangelands program focuses on creating an enabling environment that reconciles livestock production and wildlife conservation for the benefit of the community. It does this by building the capacity of the community to improve livestock production and the productivity of grasslands through various activities, including:
- Providing pasture management opportunities where the community is guided on how to develop and adopt grazing management plans and viable options of fodder production for the livestock during the dry periods.
- Partnering with the Taita Taveta County Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to provide veterinary services like mass vaccination.
- Assisting the community to conduct livestock tagging to enhance security and minimize theft of livestock.
The TTWCA landscape is home to an enviable diverse fauna and is a critical habitat for multiple endangered and endemic species, such as the Taita Thrush that exists nowhere else on earth. It also provides crucial wildlife corridors for Kenya’s largest national park the Tsavo National Parks. The TTWCA wildlife program, therefore, is geared towards safeguarding this mega fauna landscape by:
- Mitigating human wildlife conflict through a human-centered approach to conservation that looks into improved collaboration amongst stakeholders and enhanced training of community rangers.
- Enabling the recovering of multiple vulnerable, endangered and endemic species from external impacts, such as climate change, poaching, wild fires and drought.
- Joining large contiguous areas to allow the wildlife to move freely across the migratory routes in the landscape and in turn enabling healthy wildlife populations.
- Fire mitigation efforts to save the habitat, which is prone to extensive fires, including bushfires—over 37,500 acres were cleared by fires in 2020 alone.
Community and Livelihoods
The TTWCA community and livelihoods program strives to ensure conservation activities have more direct and tangible livelihood benefits to the community. It achieves this via various sub-programs, including
- Nature-based enterprise: supports the communities to create employment and diversify their income by venturing into beekeeping, vermiculture and aloe vera farming or establishing tree nurseries (more so to raise native tree species for reforestation) and maximizing the myriad tourism opportunities in the landscape.
- Water program: seeks to ease access to clean water in the community through the development of water infrastructure, including the construction of water pans, water tanks and boreholes.
- Education and awareness program: harnesses the power of media and community forums to build community awareness on the challenges, misinformation and opportunities in community-led conservation. The program also raises conservation awareness among the future generation of conservation champions through schools and goes further to offer educational support through bursaries and construction of school infrastructure.
Habitat Protection and Restoration
The Tsavo ecosystem is an important global biodiversity area that is home to various critically endangered flora and fauna species. The single biggest threat to this iconic biodiversity is habitat loss due to deforestation and land degradation. The TTWCA habitat protection and restoration program strive to swiftly counter this through a number of actions, comprising:
- Garnering support (including financial and logistical) to restore and expand forest cover through afforestation.
- Supporting the development of tree nurseries that are raising exclusively native tree species for reforestation in crucial biodiversity habitats such as the Taita Hills area.
- Supporting rangeland restoration efforts to restore what used to be productive grasslands for livestock and wildlife.
- Supporting the offsetting of restoration efforts and costs through carbon trading mechanisms, which like tourism products, is providing an alternative income stream for the community.
Governance and Policy
The community’s ability to pursue economic livelihood opportunities while sustainably safeguarding the Tsavo ecosystem is hinged on not only a committed leadership but also a leadership that has the management capacity and awareness on how to navigate the local norms and context.
The TTWCA governance and policy program seeks to equip and support the community leadership through various activities, including:
- Providing leadership and management training opportunities to enable members better their day-to-day operations.
- Supporting members to develop tailored conservation plans and become fully established conservancies.
- Partnering to lobby for supportive county and national policies and legislation as well as financial support from the government for community-led conservation efforts.
- Uniting with the rest of the regional conservation associations to support the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) in drafting policy advice and regulations and lobbying legislators at the national level.