A particular focus of our work in Taita Taveta County is the 1.4-million-acre area lying at the heart of the Tsavo ecosystem, known collectively as the Taita Ranches. This is a natural resource-rich landscape, which if managed well, has the potential to bring enormous benefits to the people of Taita Taveta while providing ecosystem services to Kenya’s wider population and helping protect biodiversity in the greater Tsavo ecosystem as a whole.

Opportunities & Challenges
In 2014, according to a statement made by the former KWS Director, 60% of all elephant poaching in Kenya occurred in the greater Tsavo ecosystem and of this, 83% occurred in the Taita Ranches. These 28 ranches form a critical elephant corridor between the southern sectors of Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, as well as playing an important role in tourism, cattle ranching, mineral extraction and agriculture. Currently the area also suffers from land degradation due to overgrazing by cattle, lack of a coordinated environmental management plan and the most intense human-wildlife conflict in the country.

taita ranches tsavo kenya
taita ranches elephant corridor tsavo kenya
taita ranches tsavocon project

The situation in the Taita Ranches is complex and multi-faceted with a range of interrelated challenges, which cannot be solved ‘overnight’, but there is no doubt that unless this critical landscape, which lies at the center of the Tsavo ecosystem, is sustainably managed for the benefit of both people and wildlife, it will continue to threaten the integrity and security of Tsavo as a whole.

In close collaboration with the Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association, TsavoCon is working to provide stewardship services to the 23 ranches which have already registered as Wildlife Conservancies. The constituent members of these Conservancies understand that sustainable management of their natural resources is in their best interest, but many of them currently lack the financial and technical capacity to develop their Conservancies into effective, successful entities. By guiding these Conservancies in the deployment of StabilCon, we help to build the institutional capacity of the local rural land owners and tenants, with a view to developing and implementing a landscape-wide management plan, including coordinated wildlife security and human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures. This plan will align with existing and future KWS management plans for the Tsavo Conservation Area as a whole to ensure landscape-wide coordination.

At TsavoCon, we claim no ownership to the areas where work; rather, by assisting rural communities to implement StabilCon, we seek to provide a grounded approach, which gives people the guidance, ‘tools’ and technical capacity needed to address their own livelihood priorities in a sustainable way. Ultimately, we aim to help the constituents of Taita Taveta to create an environment where the wildlife on their land is an asset instead of a burden, and where natural resources are respected as being central to wealth creation and people’s well being.

USEFUL LINKS:

> What is StabilCon?
>Taita Taveta Environmental Coordination initiative
> Malkahalaku Community Conservancy in Tana River County
> What's so special about Tsavo?