In northern Kenya, the most significant remaining opportunities for wildlife conservation exist on land that is classified as semi-arid. Pastoralist communities who depend on livestock for their livelihood inhabit these areas.
They operate a risk-based livestock management model, exacerbated by the semi-arid context, cultural issues and a lack of efficient access to markets whereby significant livestock herds are accumulated then depleted by drought. In a context where these peoples are increasingly unable to operate migrate nomadically, this is both environmentally and economically wasteful.
The Investment: This US$ 250,000 African Wildlife Capital investment seeded the development of a pioneering commercial trading partnership (the Linking Livestock Markets to Conservation program) between one of Kenya’s largest private sector commercial livestock operations – a subsidiary operation of the 95,000 Ol Pejeta Conservancy (now East Africa’s largest rhino conservancy) and a growing base of pastoralist communities across the semi-arid savannah landscapes of northern Kenya. By securing more reliable and higher margin access to established markets, which would normally be beyond the reach of these communities, a basis is being created for them to move from this risk-based to a budget-based paradigm which holds far greater scope to mitigate the need for overstocking - and hence foster more sustainable mixed livestock / wildlife production.
Membership of the programme is dependent on a demonstrable and sustained commitment by partner local communities to a range of conservation driven criteria, including the development of defined wildlife conservancies, which are being reinforced by new and more formal conservation covenants introduced by this transaction. The project has the added advantage of being able to work with a range of communities potentially numbering several thousand individuals over time over a very large and important conservation landscape, as well as generating significant economics with forecast potential trades collectively worth more than US$ 10 million over the next 10 years. Since the programme started, a total of US$ 2.5 million worth of cattle (7,000 in total) have been purchased from nearly 1,500 individual members of 10 different community conservancies. Since African Wildlife Capital seeded this project a further US$ 7 million of financing has been invested by Naturevest to scale up the programme.