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Title:THE SARARA INITIATIVE
EditPhoto Description:For elephants. For people. For Africa.
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EditImage Description:Elephant in Sarara.
EditPhoto Credit: © Jon McCormack
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​Northern Kenya’​s Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy is a place worth saving — for elephants, for wild habitat and for people.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Why Our Work Is Important

In the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya, the fate of elephants and people is intertwined — the threats they face, they face together. Poaching and habitat loss don’t just hurt elephants; they hurt the livelihoods of the local Samburu people and other tribes that call this landscape home.

Now, an opportunity is arising to establish a model of sustainable community-based conservation at an unprecedented level in Kenya — and beyond.


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The Sarara Initiative is charting a new course for sustainability in East Africa by protecting Africa’s iconic landscapes, enabling communities to benefit from wildlife and maintaining cultural traditions and reliance on nature.

The Initiative is a visionary partnership between Sarara, Northern Rangelands Trust, the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and Conservation International (CI). It focuses on Namunyak’s 850,000 acres (an area larger than Yosemite National Park), with a potential reach of millions of acres of wild country stretching from Lake Turkana, down to Mount Kenya and out to the Indian Ocean.

EditPhoto Credit: © Ross Hinkle
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    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Threat

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        EditImage Description:Elephants in Sarara, Northern Kenya
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        Outside of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Namunyak contains higher populations of large mammals than any other landscape (protected or unprotected) in Kenya — including the second-largest elephant population in the country, with more than 6,300 individuals.

        Yet Africa’s iconic wildlife and its peoples’ livelihoods are under threat from poachers who target elephants, rhinos and other high-value trophies. Wildlife crime jeopardizes economic prospects while fueling slavery and armed conflict. As these species near the brink of extinction, so, too, do diverse landscapes that have survived since our species was born.

        We must find a new way.

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        ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Our Solutions

        The Sarara Initiative focuses on three efforts with clear outcomes and benchmarks:

        • Ensure security for wildlife and people in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy.
        • Expand community tourism infrastructure to increase revenue from wildlife.
        • Drive towards long-term sustainability via market mechanisms including carbon and cattle.

        With the creation of a dedicated rapid-response mobile wildlife enforcement unit in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, we can make the landscape truly safe for elephants and people. ​The initiative will produce an increase in revenue — primarily through tourism and the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary — for community investments including schools, clinics and businesses. Critically, the Initiative helps secure long-term funding by mapping and valuing the area's essential "natural capital" — the sources of the benefits that nature provides, including fresh water, carbon storage and biodiversity.

        ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Our Work

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          EditSection Title:To fight poaching, more boots on the ground
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            The park ranger units that support anti-poaching efforts are stretched thin across a vast landscape — that’s why a key component of the Sarara Initiative focuses on getting more boots on the ground.

            Already, CI and NRT have established a new, 13-man mobile ranger team of highly trained Kenyan National Police Reservists in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy. There is no typical day in the life of a ranger: They could be waiting for poachers in ambushes, connecting veterinary help to wounded elephants or giving evidence in court.

            Our measures of success will be a decrease in wildlife poaching, cattle theft and road banditry, and an increase in conservation awareness and overall stability.

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              EditSection Title:Expand community tourism infrastructure to increase revenue from wildlife
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                To expand community profits from ecotourism, CI is supporting the planning and construction of seasonal Sarara Treehouses, treehouse-style structures where visitors can fall asleep to starry nights in the Mathews Mountains; and a new, private Sanctuary House overlooking the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.

                The first community-owned elephant sanctuary in East Africa, Reteti provides a place for injured elephants to heal and a home for elephants orphaned by poaching. Check out Reteti’s 2017 annual report and read our blog to learn more from Reteti co-founder Katie Rowe. Donate today to protect elephants.

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                EditPhoto Credit:© Ryan Hutton
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                  EditSection Title:Working with communities to achieve long-term sustainability
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                    The elephant’s importance coupled with its extreme vulnerability is emblematic of a bigger challenge playing out in Kenya today. While poaching attracts global attention, the habitat damage that is destroying this landscape — and the livelihoods of the people who depend on it — is often overlooked.

                    We have completed initial research into the key drivers of rangeland degradation and obstacles keeping the region’s livestock from market, and are awaiting final recommendations that will inform our next steps in creating pilot projects in Namunyak and the surrounding area.

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                    ​​​​

                    How You Can Support Sarara

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                    Edit Title:Life is Good
                    Edit Text: To support the Sarara Initiative, Life is Good created this Limited-Edition Life is Good Sarara Elephant T-shirt. The design is inspired by the beautiful beadwork of the Samburu people, and 100% of the net profits will help fund conservation initiatives in Africa.
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                    Edit Title:A silver lining for grey elephants
                    Edit Text: glassybaby — maker of one-of-a-kind, hand-blown, 100% sustainable glass votives and drinking glasses — has partnered with Conservation International to bring hope and healing to our planet. The company donates 10% of sales of its signature votives — “silver lining,” "lucky penny" and "home" — in support of our elephant and wildlife conservation initiatives in Kenya. The glassybaby contribution will support CI's work with the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy and the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, which provides a safe place for injured elephants to heal and a home for orphaned elephants affected by poaching and the ivory trade.
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                    EditPhoto Credit: © glassybaby
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                    Edit Title:Sustainable socks for wildlife rangers
                    Edit Text: Osom Brand, a sustainably-minded clothing company, has custom-designed and donated 1,000 pairs of upcycled socks for wildlife rangers in support of our elephant and wildlife conservation initiatives in Sarara (Kenya) and beyond. The thoughtful design of the “Wildlife Ranger” socks provides maximum comfort, support and protection to the rangers in every step they take on their journey to protect wildlife threatened by poaching in sub-Saharan Africa.
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                    Edit Photo Alt Text: Osom Brand "Wildlife Ranger" Sustainable Socks
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                    From the Blog

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                    EditImage Alt Text:Subadult male tiger (species panthera tigris)
                    EditCaption Title:5 things you didn’t know about wildlife trafficking
                    EditCaption Description:Wildlife trafficking is a global problem that affects international security, economies and ecosystems. Here’s what you need to know.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
                    EditRead More Link:http://blog.conservation.org/2015/07/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-wildlife-trafficking/[Optional]
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                    EditCaption Title:To save elephants, it takes a village
                    EditCaption Description:Reteti Elephant Sanctuary co-founder Katie Rowe describes what it takes to care for orphaned elephant calves.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
                    EditRead More Link:https://blog.conservation.org/2017/11/to-save-elephants-it-takes-a-village/[Optional]
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                    EditImage Alt Text:Gibbon rescued from wildlife trade and placed in a rescue center.
                    EditCaption Title:In wildlife trafficking, organized crime still a step ahead
                    EditCaption Description:Wildlife trafficking is a lucrative enterprise for organized crime networks. These are the three specific steps we can take to put an end to it.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
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                    EditCaption Title:Our critical allies for elephants
                    EditCaption Description:Conservation International’s President and CEO, Dr. M. Sanjayan, discusses the importance of engaging communities to protect elephants.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
                    EditRead More Link:https://blog.conservation.org/2017/08/our-critical-allies-for-elephants/[Optional]
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                    EditCaption Title:The most valued anti-poaching equipment? It may surprise you
                    EditCaption Description:For rangers on the ground, tackling poaching starts with a good pair of socks.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
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                    EditCaption Title:A call to end the ivory trade, led by Africa
                    EditCaption Description:Led by the African member states of the Elephant Protection Initiative, the international community has voted to close domestic ivory markets worldwide.
                    EditRead More Text:Read More
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                    More of Our Work Links

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                    EditTitle:Wildlife Trade and Trafficking
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                    EditTitle:Northern Rangelands Trust
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                    EditLink:http://www.nrt-kenya.org/
                    EditImage Alt Text: © Ross Hinkle
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                    EditTitle:Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy
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                    EditLink:http://www.nrt-kenya.org/namunyak/
                    EditImage Alt Text: © Ross Hinkle
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