I am often asked what Angama does to conserve the wild spaces that we are so lucky to operate in. My first response is always that we are not a conservation company, but rather a company that supports conservation. While there are many ways in which we play our part, we feel the best way we can contribute is by supporting organisations whose primary focus and expertise are conservation.
Just as we have the Mara Conservancy to guide us in the Mara ecosystem, we now have the Big Life Foundation in Amboseli, where we are set to open our new lodge in November 2023. Big Life protects over 1.6 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem and is a beacon of hope in what was once a dire situation. Rampant ivory poaching in 2008–2013 coupled with intense human-wildlife conflict meant that the sustainability and diversity of the entire ecosystem were in critical danger not so long ago.
Since its inception in 2010, Big Life has worked tirelessly in partnership with local communities to protect and conserve nature for the benefit of all. As Craig Millar, COO of Big Life puts it, they are trying to imagine 'a world where conservation supports the people and people support conservation'. Big Life manages the beautiful but also critically important oasis that is Kimana Sanctuary (the home of Angama Amboseli), on behalf of the 844 Maasai family members who have owned the land through generations.
Lease fees paid by Angama will flow to these families via Big Life, ensuring that a centuries-old migratory path used by the region’s famous elephants will continue to be protected as a wildlife sanctuary, rather than being turned into farmland or used for other income-generating means that are not conducive to wildlife. By providing the much-needed additional funding, Angama aims to bolster Big Life’s efforts in making the Amboseli ecosystem work for all the stakeholders — from the giant elephants to the small school-going children and everybody and everything in between.
‘Kimana Sanctuary is that rare and special place, a wild space that can stand up to the economics driving habitat loss across Africa — and thrive. This partnership with Angama delivers a long-term sustainable use-case that can and will protect this critically important wildlife habitat,’ said Richard Bonham, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Big Life. ‘This is also a clear example for conservationists and philanthropists worldwide that where wildlife thrives, tourism will follow and we are equally excited for what this means for the landowners and their families’.
Big Life is the first organisation in East Africa with coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border. Safeguarding such a vast area requires immense dedication and manpower. Over the years, Big Life has trained over 340 rangers — some of whom have won awards. These rangers work around the clock to protect some of the world’s most iconic species and their habitats and we are exceptionally proud to be able to support them in their work.
So, when people ask what Angama does to conserve the wild spaces we are so fortunate to call home, I tell them that we delight and spoil our guests. It is only by doing so, that we are able to support incredible organisations like the Mara Conservancy and the Big Life Foundation, whose sole purpose is to ensure the safety and preservation of the land, animals and people that we all love.
Special thanks to the Big Life Foundation and every individual involved in their tireless efforts toward conservation and keeping this beautiful part of Kenya safe for all. We thank them for the beautiful photographs and for allowing us to share their story as we enter this new chapter together.
Filed under: Stories from Amboseli
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