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Tsavo Elephant

The Free to Roam Project, Kenya

The Free to Roam Project

Our Free to Roam project aims to allow elephants and other wildlife thrive, by empowering Tsavo communities to give 90% of land back to nature, while increasing food security through permaculture on the remaining 10%.

The Exodus Travels Foundation are working together with Kenyan conservation experts, Tsavo Trust and the Tofauti Foundation, to support the continued roll out of their conservation project, in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park, in the Kamungi Conservancy. Its aim is to pilot an effective way of engaging the WeKamba communities in the conservation of elephants and other wildlife, while also generating economic opportunities, so the local families can become self-sufficient through sustainable means.

The Free to Roam Project has created a secure “buffer” area for local wildlife to roam, by fencing off 10% of land for the local people, leaving 90% for wildlife and nature to thrive. This not only benefits the unique wildlife that resides close to the northern buffer of the Tsavo West National Park, but it also gives the Kamungi Conservancy designated permaculture areas that will help to ensure food security. In doing so, this project aims to establish the benefits of peaceful co-existence between local wildlife and members of the surrounding community.

Tsavo Trust

Tofauti

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“Exodus Travels Foundation has a clear mandate of engaging communities in conservation efforts; this Free to Roam Project gives the local people a more positive outlook on the wildlife which they live in and amongst, and wildlife a safe passage through community owned land. We are so excited about the potential of this project as it encompasses the local community members in the solution, and provides space and safe habitat for wildlife on the border to Tsavo West National Park. By providing a simple solar provision, battery operated electric fences, we can restrict the wildlife’s ability to penetrate crops and livestock, increasing annual yields and reducing human:wildlife conflict.” Crista Cullen, Exodus Travels Foundation Trustee, Tofauti Foundation Founder and Olympic gold medallist

Giving land back to nature

Kenyan NGO, Tsavo Trust, is on a mission to conserve the vast wilderness of the Tsavo Conservation Area. This unique region encompasses Kenya’s biggest Protected Area and is also home to Kenya’s largest single elephant population. Research from the Tsavo Trust shows that the area faces multiple challenges, including wildlife crime, climate change and habitat loss.

Previously, Tsavo Trust has reported an increase in human-wildlife conflict across the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA), including bushmeat poaching and dangerous land fencing that interrupts the migratory pathways for local wildlife. The Free to Roam project has already shown promising results of significantly decreasing the cases of human-wildlife conflict, by increasing rewilded areas for local wildlife to roam, while also benefitting hard-to-reach communities who live on the borders of these protected areas.

Engaging and supporting communities

One major pillar of the Free to Roam Project is engaging with and empowering the WeKamba community through the 10% fence plan.

Many conservation efforts strictly focus on improving animal welfare as opposed to improving livelihoods in the community, but the Free to Roam Project makes sure wildlife and communities benefit equally by promoting peaceful co-existence. Tsavo Trust are working closely with the landowners in the Kamungi Conservancy to ensure they get the best results from the 10% of land they’ll protect for agriculture. Construction of the fences has provided economic opportunities for marginalised communities through paid employment and this project will also generate job opportunities for local women and girls of Kamungi who, since the Covid-19 pandemic, have experienced loss in paid jobs, closure of education facilities and increased pressure to provide for their families.

In terms of agricultural benefits, so far, the project has delivered permaculture training for 18 local people to provide a better understanding of soil, water, and best practice farming. This included collecting soil samples to understand the nutritional value of the crops. The workshop attendees were able to share their learning with family members and the wider community, encouraging idea sharing. The new skills learned has improved their ability to manage natural waste for composting, diversify crops and improve water preservation.

A socio-economic survey on the 10% fence plan reported an average of 528% increase in crop yield following the implementation of this project. Furthermore, the fences have been effective in protecting crops from wildlife (specifically elephants) and 80% effective at protecting livestock from predators. This conservation strategy will not only benefit the community in the short term, but, in the longer term, increased food security will improve livelihoods and boost household income to allow families to become self-sufficient.

If you’d like to read about the Exodus Travels Foundation’s ongoing projects, click here or to find out more about Exodus Travels’ wider commitment to improving life for people, places and planet, click here.