The future outlook for wildlife in Kenya has greatly improved in recent years with the realisation that expanding the area of protected habitat for wild animals is vital if they are to continue to survive in their present numbers.

The movement to establish new wildlife conservancies beyond the parks is an important and positive step in providing a safe haven in which wildlife can increase.

The renowned elephant conservationist Cynthia Moss has written recently:

“The establishment of the conservancies in Kenya has been the single most successful conservation initiative since the creation of national parks in the 1940’s. Conservancies protect land for Kenya’s wildlife and even more important create sanctuaries of safety. In addition conservancies bring benefits in the form of direct payments and jobs to the people who share the land with wildlife”.

Video clip: Elephant herd in Ol Kinyei Conservancy – a safe haven

The main reason for declines in wildlife globally, and in Kenya, is the massive increase in human population in the past 40 years which means that human activities now have a far greater impact on wildlife habitat and the environment than ever before!

100 years ago the human population in the world was under 2 billion, today it is over 7 billion, by 2050 it will be over 9 billion. In 1970 there were half as many people on earth as today! As a result of the huge increase in humans there is growing pressure for land, so habitat for wildlife is disappearing rapidly and we are seeing many animal populations decline to the point of extinction when there is no safe habitat left for them on planet earth!


Recent research published in Science magazine suggested the rate of extinction in the world is now thousands of times higher than before Man appeared on earth.


WWF says that Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years and in its new Living Planet Index produced in collaboration with the London Zoological Society (ZSL) it states that global loss of species is worse than previously feared. Europe and the developed countries have already lost much of their wildlife and today wildlife populations are dwindling most rapidly in the world’s tropical regions, according to the report. The tropics have seen a 56 percent reduction in the index of more than 3,000 populations, which include 1,638 species, over the past 40 years.

The WWF says: “In a world where so many people live in poverty, it may appear as though protecting nature is a luxury. But it is quite the opposite. For many of the world’s poorest people, it is a lifeline.”
In Kenya the human population has increased rapidly and doubled in less than 20 years to a figure of over 44 million today.

The 3 main causes of the disappearance of wildlife in Kenya are all as a result of human activities:


1. HABITAT LOSS – human settlements and fencing in former wildlife habitat.7

2. HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT – elephants, predators and other wildlife are not tolerated by people when the wildlife habitat is converted to farmland


3 .OVER-EXPLOITATION: unregulated hunting in the United States wiped out the Passenger Pigeon which went extinct in 1914 but had previously numbered 2 billion,  more than the entire world’s human population at the time!

OVER-EXPLOITATION of wildlife species – this virtually wiped out the North American Bison:


For the rhinoceros, the situation is critical – it’s almost too late:
In Kenya, black rhino numbers were estimated to be over 20,000 in 1970 and by 1990 the total had dropped to under 400. So in just 20 years over 20,000 were killed, an average of 1,000 killed every year, or more than 2 every single day. The famous rhinos of Amboseli are now extinct. The pictures below show what could be seen in Amboseli in 1970.
Images: Photo by Michaela Denis, Painting by Fuz Caforio


The action needed to prevent extinction of elephants, rhinos and other species of wildlife in Kenya:

1. Continue to have PROTECTED HABITAT for wildlife: in parks, reserves and conservancies connected by migration corridors.
2. Ensure there are effective ANTI-POACHING patrols to prevent killing within the protected habitat and the areas beyond.
3. Use the Police, the Wildlife authorities and the courts to arrest those involved in the illegal killing and trafficking, to PROSECUTE THE CRIMINALS and secure convictions.
4. Engage with those countries which fuel the demand for ivory and rhino horn to secure their assistance in STOPPING THE TRADE IN IVORY and damping down demand.


The Conservancy concept was initiated as one of the solutions to stop the increasing losses of wildlife populations in Kenya outside the parks where previously a large proportion of wild animal species were to be found. The conservancies create new areas of protected habitat exclusively for wildlife on additional land adjoining the existing parks and reserves.  However this cannot be done unless the communities who own the land to be set aside as wildlife conservancies can derive income and benefits from allowing this to happen which match or exceed alternative forms of land use.

Some of the first people to organise wildlife safari tourism on Maasai community lands outside the parks were Willie Roberts with Paramount Chief Lerionka Ole Ntutu at Ol Choro Oiroua who formed an association in 1993 to allow Maasai landowners to earn an income from tourism on their lands and Richard Bonham who established a lodge on the community-owned Mbirikani  Ranch. Earlier on, in Laikipia the Craig family at Lewa Downs and the Dyers at Borana also pioneered the development of wildlife conservancies on what had previously been cattle ranches and Ian Craig has worked with pastoralist communities in the Northern rangelands of Kenya to conserve wildlife within a vast area.

Building on their example, over the last twenty years we developed a new model of leasing large tracts of land from  Maasai communities of Amboseli and the Mara in the areas adjacent to the parks in order to create new wildlife conservancies.  These are then paid for by using the income from tourists staying at our Porini Camps and they also create livelihoods for the families of the landowners whose plots make up the conservancy.


Starting with 14,000 acres at Selenkay Conservancy in Amboseli and 8,000 acres at Ol Kinyei in the Mara (which subseqently expanded to 18,000 acres) , our model was based on a minimum size of  8,000 acres, exclusively for wildlife and with limits on the tourism density by setting a maximum on the number of tents and vehicles allowed in the conservancy. Following this we were involved in co-operating with other tourism partners and Maasai landowners to set up Olare Orok, Motorogi and Naibosho Conservancies based on our models. This has created a new conservancy movement that has led to more wildlife conservancies being established on similar lines, such as Mara North and Olderkesi.

Visitors who stay in the small camps within the conservancies have a very special safari experience as they can see all the wildlife in a pristine wilderness but without masses of other tourists present. We have established a formula of no more than one tent per 700 acres and no more than twelve guest tents per camp in the conservancies which we have been involved in establishing: Selenkay Conservancy in the Amboseli eco-system and Ol Kinyei, Olare Motorogi and Naboisho conservancies in the Mara. This ensures a low-density form of tourism which has less impact on the environment and which provides a more intimate and rewarding experience for the visitor.
As the land is leased on a per acre basis from the individual owners whose plots have been put together to form the conservancy and with an annual increase in the rent, the landowners income is guaranteed, regardless of whether the actual tourist numbers fluctuate, so they are not dependent on having more tourists in the conservancy in order to have a growing income. That removes the pressure to over-develop tourist facilities and makes it possible to keep to the maximum of 1 tourist tent per 700 acres and 1 vehicle per 1400 acres.
Location of Selenkay Conservancy
Amboseli & Selenkay Map
Waterhole in Selenkay Conservancy in the Amboseli eco-system with view of Kilimanjaro


Elephant movements in Amboseli eco-system following the setting up of Selenkay Conservancy
Location of Conservancies in the Mara where Porini Camps are sited.

View across the plains in Olare Motorogi Conservancy

OMC view

Guest tent at Porini Lion Camp in Olare Motorogi Conservancy

This video clip was made in 2015 when there were concerns about security following the imposition of Travel Advisories by the British government but these were all lifted a year ago and tourism is now back to normal again!


More information on the Conservancies in the Mara and where to stay:
Choose a camp in one of the conservancies
where tourism income goes towards the costs of leasing the land as protected wildife habitat and help to make a difference!