When Big Life Foundation (Big Life) co-founder photographer Nick Brandt, visited the Amboseli elephants in July 2010, it was unlike any of his prior trips.
He had been photographing these elephants since 2002 and knew many of them on a first-name basis, but something was different from his previous visits. Elephants who had once walked by his vehicle without a care in the world would not come within half a mile of him; in fact, they would run panicked in the opposite direction. Gunshots were later reported in the area from which they came. Nick reported his experience to local authorities, but nothing was done. The existing wildlife services and NGOs in Kenya simply did not have enough resources to enforce anti-poaching laws in such a widespread area.
Nick felt a call to action, and in October 2010, he joined forces with award-winning Kenyan conservationist Richard Bonham and entrepreneur Tom Hill. Within weeks, Big Life was born. Big Life was built on the success of the existing community-based nonprofit, Maasailand Preservation Trust, which had been operating under Bonham’s leadership in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro (Greater Amboseli) ecosystem for more than two decades prior.
Big Life has grown to protect over 1.6 million acres across the Greater Amboseli ecosystem, straddling southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, including through the employment over 300 local Maasai rangers, dozens of permanent ranger outposts, mobile response units, tracker dogs, aerial support, and a vast network of informers.
Utilizing innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, Big Life works to address the ecosystem’s greatest threats: wildlife poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and habitat destruction. This includes protecting one of the greatest populations of elephants in East Africa, including some who carry the largest tusks left on earth.
Since inception, Big Life has dramatically reduced poaching across the ecosystem, with Big Life ranger teams facilitating over 3,000 arrests including some of the most ruthless and prolific long-term poachers in the region.
Your participation in this year’s Running Wild race will directly benefit Big Life and the incredible work they are doing to protect elephants in Kenya. Register here.