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Tsavo Elephant

The Free to Roam Project, Kenya

The Free to Roam Project

Our Free to Roam project aims to see 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%.

Since the outbreak of COVID 19, travel restrictions across the country have exacerbated economic challenges for communities in Kenya. As a result, many workers who were heavily reliant on tourism to support their families pre-COVID, have been forced to put their conservation efforts on hold, which poses an increasingly significant threat to wildlife and wild spaces in Kenya.

To help address this issue, 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 new conservation project, in Kenya’s vast Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) in the northern buffer of the Tsavo West National Park (TWNP) at the Kamungi Conservancy. Its aim is to pilot an effective way of engaging the WaKamba communities in the conservation of elephants and other wildlife, while also generating economic opportunities so families, in the future, can become self-sufficient through sustainable means.

The Free to Roam Project will create a secure “buffer” area for local wildlife to roam, by fencing off 10% of land for the community, 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 (TWNP), but it also gives the Kamungi Conservancy designated permaculture areas that will help to ensure food security in the community. 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 the increased impacts of wildlife crime, climate change and habitat loss.

As a business, we passionately seek to improve life through travel — for the places we visit, the people we meet, and the planet we explore, and that includes supporting the restoration of nature and ecosystems. Recently, we’ve partnered with NGO Rewilding Europe to launch our Nature & Carbon Corridors Project that aims to rewild 5,000 hectares of the Italian Apennines over the course of 5 years to promote the recovery of regional biodiversity. We have committed to continue expanding our support of nature restoration; key wildlife areas need our help more than ever. Tsavo Trust has reported that human-wildlife conflicts have increased in recent months across the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA), including bushmeat poaching and dangerous land fencing that interrupts the migratory pathways for local wildlife. The initial piloting of the Free to Roam project, has 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

The other major pillar of the Free to Roam Project is engaging with and empowering WaKamba communities 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 aim is for both wildlife and communities to benefit equally by promoting peaceful co-existence. Generating economic opportunities for marginalised communities, Tsavo Trust will work 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.

These methods not only benefit the community in the short term but over time, the food security will improve livelihoods and increase household income to allow communities to become self-sufficient. This project will also generate job opportunities for local women and girls of Kamungi who, since the beginning of Covid-19, have experienced loss in paid jobs, closure of education facilities and increased pressure to provide for their families at home.

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.