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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


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, sectors that are extremely vulnerable to climate change.  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 and by working directly with the Government of Kenya (GOK) to promote low emission and climate resilient development. 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.

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Counter Wildlife Trafficking

USAID works with local and international partners, including the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to enhance wildlife management, address wildlife trafficking, and support the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes. USAID’s partnership with the Department of Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) is providing counter wildlife trafficking rapid response assistance which supports the critical and time-sensitive work of organizations such as Save the Elephants for the Elephant Crisis Fund, among a host of others. Technical assistance is also being provided in law enforcement and wildlife crime investigation to create a strong network of actors to combat wildlife trafficking.

In collaboration with 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.

Biodiversity Conservation

Communities play a key role in both the protection and conservation of wildlife on community lands and can play a significant role in supporting on-the-ground anti-poaching efforts. USAID in partnership with KWS 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. USAID has scaled up its landscape approach to biodiversity conservation in critical wildlife corridors in Northern and Coastal Kenya and most recently in Amboseli, Tsavo and Masai Mara. Collectively, USAID support in Northern and Coastal Kenya through the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) benefits 630,000 people in 35 community conservancies, covering 7% of Kenya’s land mass (45,000 sq kms). This has helped create space for the 65% of wildlife outside Kenya’s parks and reserves.

Clean Energy and Climate Change Adaptation

Transitioning to a low emissions economy is a key component of Kenya’s Vision 2030. Kenya is a flagship country for the U.S. Government’s Enhancing Capacity for Low Emissions Development Strategies (EC-LEDS), a program designed to accelerate sustainable, climate-resilient economic growth while slowing greenhouse gas emissions. USAID is working with the GOK to implement the National Climate Change Action Plan that charts a low-carbon climate-resilient development pathway and meets significant milestones for Kenya’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Our work with NRT is developing community resilience strategies.  USAID is also supporting a climate change vulnerability assessment and ecosystem monitoring of priority water towers to provide clear, accessible data that inform GOK resource management decisions and adaptation strategies.


Overview: Environment

Countering Wildlife Crime

Activity Fact Sheets

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

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

Inter-agency Agreement to Support Wildlife Conservation and Combat Wildlife Crime
U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) 

Kenya Wildlife Protection and Conservation Program
Kenya Wildlife Service

Resilient Community Conservancies Program
Northern Rangelands Trust

SERVIR Eastern Africa
Regional Centre For Mapping Resource For Development

Water Towers Climate Change Resilience Program
U.S. Forest Service


Beads Turn Kenyan Women into Entrepreneurs – and Conservationists

How Smartphones Are Helping Save Kenya's Elephant Population


You can access our current and past newsletters here.

Last updated: March 27, 2019

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