Traditional leaders from East and Southern Africa met in Amboseli, Kenya, in the second week of December to share ideas and experiences that ensure both people and wildlife co-exist in their habitats.
The meeting was convened by IFAW was attended by, among others, Senior Chief Felix Lukwa of Kasungu from Malawi and Chief Siphoso Alphius Msindazi from the Tshosholotso community in Zimbabwe.
The chiefs met with chairman of the Olgulului-Ololarashi community in Amboseli Daniel Leturesh, chairman of the Kitenden Community Wildlife Conservancy Joseph Sayialel and executive director of Amboseli Ecosystem Trust Jackson Mwato.
Traditional leaders play a vital leading role in convening and facilitating transparent and collaborative processes that are anchored in indigenous culture, norms and values.
“Between them, these local leaders represent well over 100,000 people who live with wildlife,” said IFAW President and CEO Azzedine Downes, who led the gathering.
“We believe the meeting to be the first of its sort – a trailblazing opportunity for the chiefs to discuss the real-life challenges faced by their communities and to explore solutions that will path the way for successful human-wildlife co-existence.”
IFAW supports projects in each of the three countries with strong community engagement elements. Amboseli’s Kitenden Community Wildlife Conservancy takes a land lease wildlife conservation approach.
In 2013, IFAW secured 26,000 acres of wildlife habitat from 26,000 landowners and intends to lease another 29,000 acres in the same ecosystem.
“IFAW’s conservation model is to link fragmented landscapes, which will allow elephants and other migratory species room to roam safely and the communities sharing these landscapes space to live and thrive alongside them. Our intention is to stop poaching, support communities, as well as rescue, rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild,” said Downes.
“We cannot do this without community support. This meeting of influential chiefs might be the first, but it will not be the last. We want to create lasting connections – and even long-term friendships across Africa that lead to happy co-existence between both communities and the wildlife with which they share their lives.”
The Kitenden Conservancy lease provides clean water to leased lands, creates conservancies for tourism investment and provides infrastructure such as roads. The local community also benefits from a scholarship program. Job opportunities as community wildlife rangers or in Amboseli’s tourist lodges are also available.
- A Tell report