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Kenya Ranger at Ivory Burning
On April 30, 2016, Kenya burned 105 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horns, the largest such burn to date. USAID is working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to respond to these threats and scale up Kenya’s efforts to combat wildlife crime.
Eric Onyiego / USAID Kenya and East Africa


USAID is advancing Kenya’s sustainable growth by supporting community-based natural resource management and improving ecosystem resilience.

Kenya’s natural heritage is globally recognized for its rich biodiversity and iconic landscapes.  Kenya’s economy and people’s livelihoods are highly dependent on these natural resources and nature-based tourism.  The arid and semi-arid lands account for 80 percent of the country’s land area and climate variability has led to significant economic losses and increased food insecurity. Other external factors such as wildlife crime, urban expansion, and population growth are threatening conservation efforts in Kenya.

USAID addresses these development challenges through the promotion of community-based natural resource management in biodiversity hotspots across Kenya. With over 60 percent of Kenya’s wildlife ranging outside state-protected areas, sustainable management of community and private lands has proved vital to protecting and conserving Kenya’s natural heritage.


Counter Wildlife Trafficking

USAID pioneered the community conservancy model in Kenya, a widely recognized approach to conservation that protects wildlife outside state-protected areas, expands economic opportunities for conservancy communities, and enhances resilience in the ability of people and landscapes to withstand climate variability and shocks. The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), which was founded with USAID support in 2004, has reduced elephant poaching by 46 percent since 2014 and has improved the livelihoods of more than 550,000 Kenyans spread over eleven counties.  In 2015, USAID committed to scaling up support for community conservancies in critical wildlife corridors in northern Kenya, Amboseli, Tsavo and the Masai Mara region.

For over 20 years, USAID has worked closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to enhance wildlife management and the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes. USAID’s new five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior is helping to coordinate efforts to address wildlife trafficking in the region, including technical assistance and training on wildlife protection, law enforcement and prosecution in Kenya.  USAID’s partnership with IUCN/TRAFFIC has also identified priority actions for KWS and other stakeholders in the fight to combat wildlife crime.  Through the U.S. National Academies of Science and the U.S. Global Development Lab, USAID supports research grants for Kenyan scientists to explore innovative, multi-disciplinary ways to strengthen wildlife management and the prosecution of wildlife crimes in Kenya.

Biodiversity Conservation

Given the current threats to Kenya's significant biological diversity, Kenya is one of only three bilateral programs in Africa designated as a Tier 1 biodiversity country under USAID’s Biodiversity Policy. USAID’s ongoing support for community conservancies is reversing ecosystem degradation and building resilient ecosystems through more effective community-based planning, management, and monitoring of natural resources. In 2015, NRT initiated the implementation of community grazing plans and rehabilitating degraded areas to restore rangeland biodiversity.  In partnership with the International Development Law Organization, USAID is also continuing to work on national-level issues critical to Kenya’s biodiversity conservation goals by supporting the ongoing devolution of natural resources management to county governments.


Countering Wildlife Crime

USAID and Department of Interior Inter-agency Agreement to Support Wildlife Conservation and Combat Wildlife Crime

Community Conservancies Seed Grant Program in Maasai Mara
The Nature Conservancy and Maasai Mara Conservation Association

Community Conservancy Policy Support and Implementation Program
The Nature Conservancy and Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Association

Kenya Wildlife Protection and Conservation Program
Kenya Wildlife Service

Resilient Community Conservancies Program
Northern Rangelands Trust


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