Charity No. 803118
Tusk Trust, founded by Charlie Mayhew OBE in 1990, has built a reputation for identifying and supporting an impressive range of sustainable community development and conservation initiatives right across Africa. The charity, whose Royal Patron is HRH the Duke of Cambridge, invests in programmes which uses conservation as a tool to alleviate poverty, improve education and reduce conflict, whilst also protecting areas rich in bio-diversity. The charity help fund surveys and provides key data analysis of African elephant populations and is instrumental in the protection of endangered elephants in Kenya and across the continent. Here are some of Tusk Trust's current conservation projects:
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya is renowned for its pioneering community conservation, and in partnership with Tusk has successfully eliminated poaching of elephant and rhino at a time when pressure on these species is higher than ever throughout Africa.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a mosaic of grasslands, acacia groves and wetlands that lies in the shadow of Mount Kenya.
Through local community involvement, the project first transformed a former 40,000 acre cattle ranch into a rhino sanctuary in 1983. After the initial success, more land was set aside for conservation, and in 1995 the area was converted into a wildlife conservancy governed by and managed under a 29-year conservation easement. Further land has been added since, and today the project manages 61,000 acres, approximately 95 square miles. Tusk has been a major partner since the conservancy was established, funding operating costs, purchasing aircraft, providing community support, and backing the education programme.
Through a combination of well-trained anti-poaching units and strong community support for conservation, the project has eliminated poaching of rhino and elephant. Populations of both are growing, bucking the general trend elsewhere in Africa. Lewa not only helped to recover Kenya’s black rhino population from the brink of extinction, but it has also been so successful at rhino protection that it is now able to reintroduce them to parts of their former range where they were poached to extinction a few decades ago. This includes the neighbouring Borana Conservancy, and most recently to the Sera Rhino Sanctuary to the north. Lewa currently supports a population of 72 black rhino, as well as 66 white rhino.
Lewa is also home to 23% of endangered Grévy’s Zebra – the world’s largest single population – as well as big cats and a vast assortment of plains wildlife including giraffe and buffalo.
The Conservancy works closely with its neighbours to ensure that the conservation of wildlife goes hand in hand with sustainable community development. Its community development programme provides water for drinking and irrigation, and supports agriculture, healthcare and road infrastructure. The Lewa Education Programme currently supports 16 primary schools, 3 secondary schools, and over 13,000 children.
The Conservancy recruits locally, and with a security team of over 150 men it is one of the largest employers in the region. It also provides the pre-conditions for tourism to thrive in and around the conservancy, and this is a further important source of local employment.
The project has become a model for the sustainable protection of land in such a way that both people and wildlife benefit. It was a catalyst for the Northern Rangelands Trust, which now unites 33 previously divided communities under a common conservation policy covering 17,000 square miles to the north of Lewa.
Despite the project’s success, poaching remains a constant threat, and Lewa’s rhino require round-the-clock monitoring to ensure their continued safety. And even with strong community support, the growth of the nearby towns means it’s more important than ever to keep the communities engaged.
Lamu Marine Conservation Trust
Tusk and the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust protect all five of the world’s threatened sea turtles off Kenya, changing attitudes and behaviours to help more hatchlings survive and rescue an enormous number of turtles back to the sea.
The Lamu Archipelago on the north coast of Kenya is home to all five sea turtle species: the
Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles use the area as feeding grounds, and the Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles as nesting sites. These species are all classified as either endangered or critically endangered, and despite enjoying legal protection, populations in Kenya have declined by more than 80% over the last 30 years, with 85% of turtle mortalities estimated to be the result of human activities. Populations are threatened by illegal consumption and exploitation of sea turtle and eggs, degradation of turtle nesting sites through illegal beach developments, and damage to foraging areas (coral reefs and sea-grass beds) from pollution, sedimentation and unsustainable fishing practices. These direct threats result in part from a lack of understanding among stakeholders of the status of sea turtles and the need for their conservation, as well as widespread poverty which drives local communities to overexploit both the turtles and their habitat.
The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust (LaMCoT) was founded in 1992 by Carol Korschen and her late husband Lars Korschen as a community-based initiative to conserve the endangered sea turtles of the Lamu Archipelago. Since then it has expanded to encompass a number of related projects from coral reef protection to environmental education, community development, bee keeping and community efforts to clear rubbish from local beaches, all aimed at achieving sustainable management of the Lamu coastal ecosystem.
Fishermen that used to sell turtles accidentally caught in their nets now bring them to LaMCoT for tagging and returning to the sea. This has resulted in an incredible increase in annual turtle hatchlings from 1,865 to an average of 4,578 per year, and the safe release of over 1,050 juvenile and adult turtles back to the sea.
The project’s current objectives are:
1) Sustainable management and conservation of the endangered sea turtles and their habitats in the Lamu archipelago, mainly on the islands of Manda and Shella.
2) Increased advocacy, education and public awareness on sea turtle conservation and management in the Lamu archipelago, particularly through a mobile education unit.
3) Sustain and enhance ecologically sensitive alternative livelihood options for local communities, such as eco-tourism and bee keeping.
4) Support the enhancement and advancement of an ecologically representative community managed marine conservation area in Kiweni( Kiweni Community Conservation Area CCA)
Blue Ventures Conservation in the Comoros
In a new initiative, Tusk and Blue Ventures will tackle the degradation of the sea around the Comoros, home to turtles, dugongs and much more, by working with local communities to manage fishing and other coastal activities.
The Comoros archipelago is located in a region of exceptional marine biodiversity: the Northern Mozambique channel has the second highest ocean biodiversity recorded for the whole Indo-Pacific region outside the 'Coral Triangle' of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. Research indicates that the Comoros is one of the most vulnerable countries on earth to the effects of climate change and ocean acidification, both of which are likely to become more severe in coming years, and may further threaten the area’s biodiversity.
Anjouan's Bimbini peninsula is one of the most important marine key biodiversity areas for the Comoros, hosting a range of marine and coastal ecosystems and providing habitat for threatened species, including dugongs and turtles. Yet observations show that the peninsula's rich biodiversity is currently experiencing high levels of degradation.
Small-scale fisheries are particularly important for Anjouan, the most densely populated island. Local communities consider Anjouan’s marine resources to be over-exploited and fishers migrate regularly to the neighbouring islands of Mohéli and Grande Comore, where coral reefs are generally in better condition increasing fishing pressure on these areas.
Increasing numbers of lagoon fishers and gleaners around the Bimbini peninsula, coupled with the extensive use of destructive and non-selective fishing practices, are causing serious degradation of shallow marine habitats and resources. There is now an urgent need for a new and more effective approach to marine ecosystem monitoring and management that fully engages with coastal and fishing communities in the Comoros.
With vital support from Tusk, Blue Ventures will draw on more than 10 years’ experience of working with coastal communities in Madagascar, which faces similar challenges to the Comoros. Blue Ventures’ work in Madagascar has ignited a proliferation of community management initiatives, including more than 250 periodic closures for economically important fisheries, and the establishment of the countries first “Locally Managed Marine Conservation Areas”, of which there are now more than 100.
As a first step towards creating a Locally Managed Marine Conservation Area in the Comoros, the project will build the knowledge and capacity necessary to safeguard the marine ecosystems and biodiversity underpinning sustainable coastal economies in Comoros.
The objectives towards these are as follows:
1) To improve understanding of the status of the marine environment of the Bimbini peninsula and put in place robust survey methods to monitor ecosystems around coral reefs and mangrove forests and inform marine management.
2) To build capacity of local associations in the Comoros for marine biodiversity assessment, monitoring and management.
3) To increase marine environmental awareness and understanding among coastal communities in and around the Bimbini peninsula, Anjouan.
4) To support the establishment of Comoros’ first locally managed marine area in the Bimbini peninsula, Anjouan, developing a replicable blueprint for community-led adaptive fisheries management.
To read more about these projects click here.