Northern Rangelands Trust

Project LocationLaikipia, East & West Samburu, Isiolo, Baringo, East Pokot, Laisamis and Ijara districts, Kenya
Project TypeWildlife and habitat conservation, Community conservation initiatives, Endangered species protection, Environmental education
Endangered SpeciesRed colobus, elephant, Grevy's zebra, hirola antelope, African wild dog, cheetah, leopard, De Brazza's monkey
Land Area Protected31000 km2
Benefiting Locally1,500 directly, 280,000 indirectly
Local People Employed1,500
Schools Supported34 (7410 pupils)

Northern Rangelands Trust

There is a quiet revolution happening in northern Kenya, where over 280,000 people have decided to dedicate their land, 7.5 million acres in total, to wildlife conservation. This is a first in East Africa, if not across the whole continent and the movement, the Northern Rangelands Trust, forms the basis for Tusk’s support to community conservation.

Northern Rangelands Trust

The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is a community-led initiative, registered in 2004, whose members represent politically and socially marginalized pastoralist communities of Northern Kenya, who are predominantly dependent on a purely livestock-based livelihood system. NRT was established by communities and other stakeholders involved in biodiversity conservation in Northern Kenya, recognising a need for an umbrella organisation that would assist communities to use biodiversity conservation and improved environmental management as a means of improving and diversifying livelihoods.  

The NRT acts as a catalyst for development of community-based conservation initiatives and is currently working with 27 community conservancies, covering an area of over 7.5 million acres.

The overall aim of the Northern Rangelands Trust is to improve the livelihoods of communities within the Trust area through the conservation of biodiversity on their land and the management and sustainable use of natural resources. NRT has an expanding membership of Community Conservancies (community-led conservation initiatives), representing over 280,000 people in northern Kenya of diverse ethnicity including Samburu, Rendille, Pokot, Laikipiak Maasai and Meru. A growing network of government, community and privately owned conservancies are currently emerging as part of a mega-conservation area that includes Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba Nature Reserves, Meru National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and NRT Conservancies among others.

NRT has developed a highly successful model for conservation that is centred around local communities. Each project is led by the community has developed on similar lines:

  • Installation of communications system and community game scouts to provide security for the people, wildlife and livestock
  • Establish simple and effective monitoring of the key wildlife species by community scouts
  • Improve conservation awareness amongst the community
  • Expose community leaders to other community-based conservation initiatives in order to understand potential benefits to conservancy development
  • Provide a mechanism and foundation for development of sustainable and equitable partnerships between the community and private sector tourism

Tusk Trust believes that the engagement and facilitation of local communities in the development of sustainable conservation programmes is the key to successful wildlife conservation. Tusk has been a long-term supporter of the conservancies now encompassed under the Northern Rangelands Trust umbrella.

In particular, Tusk has provided support to:

Notes from the field
Tusk is undoubtedly one of NRT's most important and longstanding supporters, and this partnership has been a key driver of the success of community conservation in northern Kenya. Through Tusk community conservancies are witnessing improved security for wildlife and people; increasing wildlife numbers; re-establishment of wildlife range; an integration of wildlife and livestock management; a platform for tourism and other related business; growing revenues for communities; and community institutions that will take conservation well into the future. There are, and always be challenges, but Tusk's support has, and will enable NRT and its member conservancies to address these. Tusk is reliable, flexible and willing to react rapidly to immediate conservation needs and priorities. These are valuable attributes that need to be maintained and cherished.
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