Community Development

Combating Snakebite in Kenya

Snakebite - WildlifeDirect

Left, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, WildlifeDirect CEO and Boniface Momanyi, Bio – Ken Snake Farm during the filming of Wildlife Warriors Episodes Saving Snakes in Watamu

The severity of snake bites has been neglected for many decades, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to list it as a neglected tropical disease to draw global attention to the problem.

According to WHO, an estimated 5.4 million people are bitten each year with up to 2.7 million envenomings. The film ‘Minutes To Die’ indicated that 125,000 people die from snake bites every year and 20,000 of those deaths are in Africa with 1,000 deaths in Kenya.

While snakes are dangerous to people, they are also important in the ecosystems. Most snakes feed on rodents and other small animals that are pests and sources of diseases and the unique olfactory capacity of snakes means they will be attracted to areas with many rodents like granaries and food waste dumps.

In 2018, three Non-State Actors, Bio-Ken Snake Farm, WildlifeDirect, Kenya Red Cross formed a partnership to elevate the status of snake bites as a national concern and have initiated discussions with relevant government and non-government stakeholders including World Health Organization, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and Kenya Wildlife Service. This group is advocating for venomous snake bites to be given the same status as rabies as a notifiable disease. This would enable the government to collect data on incidents in order to stock the correct antivenom in the snakebite hotspots and this would reduce fatalities significantly.

Princeton Community Conservation Course in Kenya

Every year, Dr. Paula Kahumbu leads an undergraduate course on Community Conservation in Kenya in partnership with Princeton University and Columbia University.

In 2019, the 10-day course brought together 12 students from both universities and was held in Watamu, Kilifi County.

Unlike the previous year, which focused on human-elephant conflict, in 2019, the course tackled the issue of snakebite in Kenya. The students were tasked with developing solutions to address snakebite. They collected views from various stakeholders in the county using Open Space Technology, a method of holding meetings in a way that people self-organize.

The students had three recommendations; a) scale-up venom production, research and provide support to victims, b) create a framework for engaging traditional healers and c) conduct education and awareness in schools and identify snake ambassadors within the communities.

In 2018, we were joined by students from American University. The 27 students explored Amboseli National Park, met with communities, farmers and pastoralists, and visited the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Big Life and government offices such as Kenya Wildlife Service, Health, Livestock, Agriculture and Water.

Re-imagining Enkijape Primary School into a Centre of Excellence in Innovative Education

The Community Development department was developed in October 2014 to create and enhance peaceful relationships between communities and wildlife. The goal of our community project is to create thriving communities by improving children’s performance in schools through conservation.

In April 2017, a new project started taking shape after 750 members of the Imbirikani community including students, parents, group ranch leaders, and government officials held a meeting to discuss how to create a school of excellence in the middle of one of the world’s most important elephant ranges in Amboseli. The idea for this project came from women from the Oltome Nadupo Women’s Company. The Open Space event was funded by the Perfect World Foundation.

‘Re-imagining Enkijape Primary School into a Centre of Excellence in Innovative Education’ became a reality when Dhiren Chandaria, CEO of Insta Products, a leading Kenyan Manufacturer nutritional products for emergency feeding programs, donated 6 months’ of food for 750 pupils and teachers. For the first time in 10 years, children from Enkijape Primary School are now receiving one midday meal at the school.  The school also received 25 computer tablets to Enkijape Primary through a donation from the Chandaria Family. Each tablet is pre-loaded with the entire syllabus for the Kenya Primary Schools.

The feeding program is augmented with deworming the entire school community thanks to a donation of deworming tablets from AAR in collaboration with the Kajiado County Government Education and Public Health offices. The former County Commissioner, Kajiado County Mr. Harsame Kello also donated one tonne of maize, 900kgs of beans and 18 liters of cooking oil to support the school feeding program in 2017.

In 2018, the Chandaria Family donated 10 tonnes of improved flour for the feeding program. The Embassy of Ireland also donated funds for expansion of the school kitchen. The newly expanded kitchen was commissioned by H. E. Ms. Lisa Doherty – Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ireland on February 16, 2018. Additional funds from Elephant Cooperation were also used to repair 2 old stoves that were not working and to provide water and food for 12 months. The Rotary Club of Nairobi also provided one cooking stove.

In June 2018, our Community program team visited schools 22 schools in Amboseli Ecosystem where they distributed 450 boxes of Insta Products that is used to make porridge. Many of the children that go to these schools come from very poor families and have to walk for long distance to get to the schools. This exercise would not have been possible without the generous donation from Dhiren Chandaria and Chandaria

Family who donated Insta Products for Enkjiape primary school and now benefiting an additional 9 feeder schools and 13 primary schools in Kajiado County.


WildlifeDirect worked with women from three communities in Imbirikani in Amboseli, Kenya, to develop new livelihoods strategies employing traditional Maasai beadwork skills. Beaded denim jackets and other fashion products were produced and marketed through the women’s company: the Oltome Nadupo Women Group Company made up 147 Maasai women who were initially members of different groups (Siana, Makutano and Osiram). The registration of the new company provided the women with a legitimate avenue for doing business and trading with other partners in a transparent manner. 83% of these women are widows and breadwinners in their families. The project was initiated by Kenya’s First Lady’s Office and funded through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This project enhanced the business potential of fashion bead work by helping the women develop a range of high-value, high-quality products for the international market. In addition to contributing to improved livelihoods for the women and their families, the project contributed to elephant conservation by diversifying livelihoods away from the farming activities that bring people into conflict with elephants.

The aimed to provide a successful model for sustainable development among communities living with elephants.

During the project period, the women products were retailed in 4 outlets in Nairobi, including:

  • Kiko Romeo Fashion shop Yaya Centre
  • Pink skink shop – the Hub
  • Pink skink – Wilson airport
  • Norfolk Hotel gift shop

For all enquiries, please contact Joy Omulupi:

The Imbirikani Women Project empowers 147 women in communities living with elephants.

Empowering Maasai Women

The project empowered Maasai women in a community where women traditionally play subordinate roles. Over the past year, the status of the women in the Imbirikani region has increased. They have expanded their business activities, become more involved in governance at the local level, and emerged as vocal advocates for elephant conservation. The income generated contributes to improved livelihoods (e.g. housing, diet, education and health) among the 147 women members of the Company and their extended families, benefiting about 3,000 people.

Additionally, the project contributed to elephant conservation and a peaceful human-wildlife coexistence by providing alternatives to farming and commercial agriculture activities that bring people into conflict with elephants. By giving local communities a greater share in the economic benefits generated by elephants through tourism and economic livelihood, local people are empowered to play a more active role in ecosystem planning and management.

A beautiful Maasai beaded necklace adorned by one of the women from Imbirikani Women’s Project.
From Left: Riana Lemalon, Pepei Nkampooshi, WildlifeDirect CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu and Sitat Sukare.


The Community Program is a partnership between WildlifeDirect, the Office of the First Lady of Kenya, the Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service, Oltome Nadupo Women’s Group and the Enkijape Primary School and has been generously supported by UNDP, the Wild Lives Foundation, The Perfect World Foundation, Embassy of Ireland in Kenya, Elephant Cooperation, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and the Chandaria Family.