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Kenyan communities offer endangered rhinos a safe haven

Screen grab from a film about Lewa by Thomas Hasel.

Deutsche Welle | November 12, 2020

Watch video and read the original story here.

Local communities are working to reverse the fate of critically endangered black rhinos, which now roam free in northern Kenya’s Lewa Conservancy.

Sustainable Nature Conservation in Kenya 

Project goal: Protecting nature biodiversity in a way that also helps people in affected areas.

Project implementation: The International Climate Initiative’s project aims to further both goals by offering support and advice for those managing protected areas. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) awards the “Green List Standard” to nature reserves that successfully work with local communities to protect biodiversity.

Budget: Germany’s Environment Ministry provides €3,368,657 ($3,916,653) in financing to the project.

Project partners: IUCN, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Peru’s Ministry of Environment, Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Project duration: November 2015 to October 2020

Critically endangered black rhinos roam the grasslands of Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy alongside lions, elephants and zebras. But that wasn’t always the case. The rhinos were once prime targets for poachers who slaughtered the animals for their horns.

Now they are protected by 123 rangers, surveillance technology and dog units. Most of those involved in their protection come from nearby villages.

“Communities play a critical role in terms of conservation. Without putting them in the boat, we are not winning in terms of conservation,” said Edward Ndiritu, who is head of one of the Lewa’s anti-poaching units.

Some 70% of the nature reserve’s income supports community programs such as schools, hospitals and micro loans for women. The IUCN has placed Lewa on the “Green List” for its community-based conservation work.