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We are standing with our fingers in the dam.

The flood is coming.

Africa’s human population will quadruple by the end of this century. Elephant numbers have dropped by a third in the past decade and the intense pressure on the use of land, water, and natural resources will only increase. The immediate need is to focus attention on illegal wildlife trade and wildlife security. Our best bet is to fully support community-level action.

Communities are delivering incredible results across Africa. The potential to integrate conservation with local livelihoods and national economic benefit. Countries like Namibia boast innovative models for conservation that enable local communities to create over 80 conservancies covering around 16 million hectares with community controlled rights over wildlife use and management. This results in almost $10 million annual income from hunting and tourism. The result of incentivizing the toleration of wildlife? Elephant numbers in Namibia have tripled in the last three decades and the country has Africa’s largest black rhino population.

It turns out conservation isn’t rocket science. And community conservancies are leading scaled up conservation ambitions in Africa.

Eleven percent of Kenya’s surface (more than all of Kenya’s national parks) is now covered by a diverse range of conservancies. This has resulted in a 12% increase in the country’s second-largest elephant population between 2012 and 2017. And throughout the country conservancies are outperforming national reserves for Grevy’s zebra, hirola antelope and lion.

If you dream of traveling to Africa it is key to support grassroots level, community-focused conservation. Your trip can absolutely contribute to the momentum of the new wave of wildlife protection.

The future of our natural wildlife resources lies with transparent, self-governed community conservancies promoting stability, employment and revenue.

Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy

Welcome to the home of the first community-owned elephant orphanage in Africa opened on the 20th August 2016 in the remote Mathews Range, in Samburu country in North Kenya.

Here, the community unites for wildlife through the rescue and release of orphaned and abandoned elephant calves. The project creates opportunities, improves livelihoods and proves that nature can provide a sustainable economy.

It is more than practical. It is a symbol of a paradigm shift.

In a corner of the earth where nomadic pastoralists have lived for over two centuries, traditional trends are being reversed and our wilderness is being secured through wildlife tolerance and co-existence. Elephant poaching continues at unsustainable rates throughout Africa but in the NRT conservancies, the proportion of illegally killed elephants fell by 53% since 2012.

Reteti isn’t just about saving elephants; it’s about breaking down stereotypes and redefining wildlife management. 

Katie Rowe, Reteti Elephant Sanctuary co-founder

Between five and ten elephants are abandoned and orphaned in north Kenya through poaching, man-made wells, drought, human-wildlife conflict, and natural mortality. In a partnership between Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, Samburu County Government, Kenya Wildlife Service, Northern Rangelands Trust, San Diego Zoo, Conservation International, Tusk Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Save the Elephants, together with several individuals, the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary has been established to be able to house and care for young elephants.

Conservation International broadens the community connection and builds Reteti’s capacity to be more effective by providing critical operational support. The goal is to reunite calves with their mothers within 48 hours.

Reteti is also empowering young Samburu women to be the first-ever women elephant keepers in all of Africa. Keepers are formally trained and an elected board from within the community oversee all operational aspects of the Sanctuary.

The facility houses a mobile elephant rescue team that works daily on elephant rescue, community awareness and the mitigation of human/wildlife conflict.

Since March, Reteti has successfully returned five abandoned calves to their families, and have not yet needed to hand raise any individuals. This is the primary aim of the Sanctuary – with elephants only being taken into care as a last resort.

Join the Rothschild Safari guided adventure to meet the Hidden Tribes of East Africa in October 2019.


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