Space to Call their Own: Protecting Eselengei, Kenya

  • Focal species: African elephant, African lion
  • Secondary species: black rhino, cheetah, leopard
  • Countries: Kenya, Tanzania
  • Name of organisation: Big Life Foundation
  • Support requested:
    contributions for specific items >1000 euro,
    contributions to running of project <1000 euro
  • Does this project benefit local people through employment and/or capacity building: yes
  • Does this project benefit local people in other ways: All of Big Life's programs are designed around the ethos: if conservation supports the people, then people will support conservation. As such, Big Life is one of the largest ecosystem employers through our community ranger program. All recruits on this project will be from the Eselengei community. Additionally, all of the other elements that make up Big Life’s holistic approach—everything from PCF, to educational scholarships for local children to fortification of community water sources and provision of a sufficient supply of fuel to pump enough water for both livestock and wildlife - will be implemented.

Project Description

Encompassing over 200,000 acres, Eselengei is the northernmost tract of intact wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro (Greater Amboseli) ecosystem in southern Kenya. With every year, its importance and the need to conserve it is growing. Over the years, Big Life Foundation’s rangers have played a central role in controlling poaching and making the Greater Amboseli ecosystem a safer place. As a result, animals—especially elephants—are now venturing further from Amboseli National Park and deeper into Eselengei. They are also staying there for longer. This safe zone is not just important for elephants; Eselengei is also a stronghold of the ecosystem’s lion population, as well as home to a wide diversity of other species. However, Eselengei is surrounded by communities that are not always friendly to wildlife. Poachers, targeting bushmeat and sometimes ivory, operate along its northern boundaries, frequently picking off animals in the areas outside of the existing conservancy that lies within Eselengei. In 2018, five elephants were speared to death in a series of horrific events.

In response, Big Life plans to expand its successful wildlife protection and conservation model to Eselengei. This includes adding two permanent ranger outposts, fully equipped and manned by recruits from the Eselengei community, and supported by a Land Cruiser vehicle that will allow for rapid response to emergencies. These rangers will not just work to protect wildlife on Eselengei (often by providing support to the people who share this space), but will also respond when animals cross the invisible barrier into neighboring ‘hostile’ territory.

Also, Big Life will implement its Predator Compensation Fund (PCF) to Eselengei. The fund provides livestock owners with financial compensation for all verified losses of their animals to the ecosystem’s wild predators. This program has been immensely successful over the years, helping to increase the lion population throughout the ecosystem.


  • Comments:
    traddling southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, Big Life Foundation (Big Life) works to protect over 1.6 million acres in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro (Greater Amboseli) ecosystem. The Greater Amboseli ecosystem lies at the center of what is one of the largest remaining interconnected savanna ecosystems in Africa - containing some of the most important wildlife areas left on the continent. It is also a region under threat. In response, using innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, Big Life seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wildlife and wild lands, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa. Since inception, Big Life has grown to employ hundreds of local Maasai rangers, with more than 30 permanent outposts and tent-based field units, 14 vehicles, 3 tracker dogs, and 2 planes for aerial surveillance.
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