Livestock to Markets

“The cattle are there. The numbers are there. The market is there. It's really just about scaling it up, and I'm really glad that The Nature Conservancy saw this opportunity and are with us in scaling this up.” Tom Lalampaa, Chief Program Officer, Northern Rangelands Trust

“The cattle are there. The numbers are there. The market is there. It’s really just about scaling it up, and I’m really glad that The Nature Conservancy saw this opportunity and are with us in scaling this up.” Tom Lalampaa, Chief Program Officer, Northern Rangelands Trust

Livestock to Markets creates a unique and powerful linkage between improved livelihoods for Samburu pastoralists in Northern Kenya and expanded, healthy habitat for wildlife of the Northern Rangelands of Kenya. This initiative serves as a model for sustainable natural resource management in the face of population growth and climate change, providing a powerful demonstration of how people and nature can thrive together.

For thousands of years, cattle herders have shared Kenya’s northern grasslands with elephants, zebras, giraffes, rhinoceros and other wildlife coexisting in a relatively stable environment. In recent years, however, things have changed—largely due to poor access to markets. A growing number of pastoralists have amassed exceedingly large herds that overgraze the land and cause conflict amongst communities over the limited grazing space. During increasingly severe droughts, fear of mass cattle starvation drive herders to take their cattle on risky treks to market, where they are forced to sell the cows that survive—weak and underfed—at low prices.

This cycle has caused severe damage to Kenya’s grasslands and increased the risk of dangerous interactions between the herders and wildlife, both of which threaten the animals that depend on the grasslands for survival. With financing from The Nature Conservancy, the Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya (NRT) has been able to create a for-profit subsidiary (NRT-Trading) to expand the Livestock to Markets program. NRT-Trading supports local cattle herding communities who agree to adhere to improved grazing practices. These communities are then responsible for managing the territories over which they graze their livestock, creating a local “conservancy” model. Since 2010, NRT uses grant capital to buy cattle directly from local conservancies at reasonable prices, feed the cattle on nutrient-rich grasses, process the meat and then sell directly to the markets in Nairobi at higher grades and prices than the herders could otherwise have obtained. Furthermore, every animal that is purchased has a levy attached to it that provides funding to the communities, to use for conservation, healthcare and education. The value created through this transaction is thereby shared between NRT and the local communities, generating conservation, financial and social outcomes.

With a $3.5 million investment from NatureVest, NRT will be able to increase by a factor of ten the number of cattle it currently buys. This deal will lead to improved herding practices across 19 local conservancies, allowing for better management and rejuvenation of 1.25 million acres of nutrient-rich grasslands and habitats for wildlife.

In addition, the deal will further improve household incomes in the region and allow for greater investment in wildlife patrols that help to lower the incidence of elephant and rhino poaching—a critical threat to these endangered species. Elephant poaching in the NRT conservancies has already declined by nearly 40 percent over the past 3 years.

livestock imageWOPA100917_D130Tom Lalampaa, a Samburu who became a community development manager for the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), is now a key player in efforts to protect Kenyan wildlife and improve the lives of his people. Photo by Ami VitaleWOPA100917_D131A Lewa herder watches over quarantined cattle at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya. Photo by Ami Vitale

Additional Materials


Livestock to Markets In the News

For-profit conservation: A new tool to mobilize investment?
Jen Molnar & Charlotte Kaiser
, Deputy Managing Director
“Impact investing has created a market for sustainably managed cattle that ultimately boosts protection of wildlife habitat and strengthens community livelihoods.”

Creating a Win-Win Investment in Kenya
The Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking
Taryn Goodman, Director of Investment Partnerships
Charlotte Kaiser, Deputy Managing Director
“NatureVest seeks solutions that balance human well-being and natural resource preservation.”

Restoring land for and with Kenyan pastoralists (World Agroforestry Center Blog)

New Loisaba Conservancy Helps Conserve Kenya’s Second Largest Elephant Population and Benefits for Communities, Wildlife, and all Kenyans (The Nature Conservancy Press Release)

Can Impact Investments Save the Environment?

Marc Diaz, 
Managing Director
It’s about stretching each conservation dollar as far as it will go.

Sustainable Cattle in Kenya Pays Off
Charlotte Kaiser, Deputy Managing Director
This is the power of impact capital-to change the scale at which we support conservation and communities .”