Kenya

Rural Life in Kenya

Living and Working with Wildlife

Kenya is home to some of the world’s most celebrated wildlife—elephant, lion, rhinoceros, giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, and many more. To appreciate the environment’s impact on life in Kenya, consider how various Kenyan communities live and work with wild animals.

Even though the national parks protect some of the most important and beautiful wildlife habitat in the country, most of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside park boundaries. Accordingly, the people who live and work in villages and towns shared with lions or elephants face special challenges and must find creative solutions.

Successful wildlife management requires multiple strategies. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which manages the national parks, is on the front line of many critical law enforcement issues, such as combating poaching. Truly effective wildlife conservation and management also requires the cooperation and engagement of private reserves and local communities. In some regions, traditional beliefs about wildlife and natural resource use also can conflict with more centralized planning priorities.

Kenya is not alone in facing these challenges, but the importance of its wildlife makes the stories of the people who actually coexist with wildlife in many ways worth exploring.

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A ranger on patrol in Sera Conservancy encounters a herd of elephants. He is equipped to safeguard wildlife from poachers and others who intend to harm protected natural resources.

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An aerial view of a traditional boma used by communities in northern Kenya shows a simple brush barricade surrounding the area to keep herd animals and people safely inside and wildlife out. Photos by Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI, courtesy of Northern Rangelands Trust