A Kenyan has been selected as one of the winners of an international award for spearheading grassroots efforts to protect iconic wildlife species at the Amboseli National Park. Mr Daniel Leturesh, a grassroots wildlife conservationist won the award on Monday from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) thanks to his three decades of protecting the natural habitats of flagship species like elephants and rhinoceros.
Leturesh, who is also the current chairman of Olgulului Ololarashi Group Ranch that surrounds Amboseli National Park, has proactively engaged communities to preserve wildlife corridors over the past three decades. “Conservation is hard work, there are many challenges I have faced to win space for animals. Even now we are in a period of drought but am happy we have managed to get 40 per cent of communal land for wildlife in the Amboseli region,” Leturesh said in a statement released by IFAW in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
According to IFAW, Leturesh has been engaging local communities to preserve their ancestral lands and allow the free movement of wildlife in the Amboseli ecosystem. In addition, Leturesh has secured 26,000 acres (about 10,521) for wildlife habitation by persuading 2,600 landowners to lease their land through international and local conservation groups. Thanks to his relentless campaigns, there has not been fragmentation or harmful development of wildlife dispersal corridors within the Amboseli ecosystem, said IFAW.
Other achievements linked to Leturesh advocacy include the establishment of Kitenden Conservancy which connects Amboseli and West Kilimanjaro wildlife sanctuaries, added IFAW. He represented a local community that signed an agreement that will see landowners benefit from annual lease fees and ecotourism revenue, according to IFAW. James Sawyer, the UK director for IFAW, noted that Leturesh’s dedication to preserving his native lands for wildlife paved the way for iconic species to thrive amid threats like habitat loss, climate change and poaching. Sawyer added that Leturesh’s innovative wildlife conservation model will help reverse the decline of flagship species that are key to sustaining rural livelihoods through tourism.