- Organization Name:Action for Cheetahs in Kenya
- Address:PO 1611-00606
Our mission is to promote the conservation of cheetahs through research, awareness and community participation in Kenya. ACK works closely with local wildlife authorities and land holders to develop policies and programmes which support wildlife conservation and human livelihoods for long-term sustainability of human and wildlife zones.
We also aim to promote cheetah population sustainability in Kenya through coexistence with people. ACK objectives are 1) Identify factors affecting cheetah livestock depredation and mitigate conflict, 2) Understand cheetah health and habitat selections, 3) Mitigate natural resource competition and 4) Influence public and administrative changes to positively affect cheetah conservation-management protocol. The COOL Crafts project addresses the mitigation of resource competition and afecting positive attitudes towards carnivores.
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN (Durant, Marker et al. 2008). Currently, Kenya holds 1200-1400 cheetahs with over 75% residing on land outside of National Parks and Reserves. Cheetahs have been extirpated from 25% of their historic Kenyan range in the last 20 years (KWS 2010). Increased land subdivision and human settlement results in reduction of cheetah habitat and prey base, which, in turn, creates an increase in cheetah-human conflict and human-related cheetah mortality.
The COOL Craft initiative was inspired by Cheetah, Otter, Owl and Lion researchers, who sought to provide a reliable and lucrative export market for rural Kenyan crafts that would promote the benefits of living near wildlife. COOL Crafts artists produce hand-made products with animal and/or conservation themes made from renewable or recycled materials, providing revenue to local people and an incentive to preserve the environment. Our items reflect the charismatic aspects that appeal to people who visit zoos and nature stores– the speed of the cheetah, the antics of the otter, the stealth of the owl, and the power of the lion.
Increased human population, extensive droughts and changes in land tenure create sedentary lifestyles where idle youth look for any means to support families. Tourism is Kenya’s second largest source of foreign exchange revenue forming 11 to 13% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product between 2011 and 2014. Populations of the very animals that visitors travel to Kenya to see continue to decline. Unless directly involved in the tourism industry, communities who live in close proximity to native wildlife derive little financial benefit from it and often perceive wildlife as a threat to crops and livestock. Negative views of wildlife are pervasive in rural communities because few people directly benefit from tourism. Coupled with poverty, negative attitudes lead to illegal poaching and other activities harmful to wildlife. Poaching in Africa has increased significantly in recent years; elephants and rhinos lose their lives for the sale of ivory and horn, prey species form the basis of the bush meat trade, and predator cubs are sold into international markets. Much has been done to highlight the threat of poaching and reduce the market for products derived from animal products but endangered species will only survive in Africa if they contribute to, rather than detract from, people’s livelihoods.
In 2016 we will celebrate 15 years of cheetah conservation action in Kenya - starting initially as a branch of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (Namibia). Carnivores, Livelihoods and Landscapes (CaLL) is the registered Kenya organization supporting Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK) and the COOL Crafts project. Our US 501c3 affiliation is with Project Survival located in California. Our research and community programmes are also affiliated with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Kenya Wildlife (KWS)Service and the University of Nairobi.
CaLL is guided by a board of directors and a scientific advisory committee while continuing to work closely with local wildlife authorities and land holders to develop policies and programs which support wildlife conservation and human livelihoods for long-term sustainability of human and wildlife zones. ACK researchers work in collaboration withKWS under a permit through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The project receives support and technical advice from CCF and from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) as well as the scientific advisors. The main focus of ACK’s research in Kenya is the evaluation of farmland ecosystems for the long-term habitat viability for the cheetah.
While working on cheetah research, I recognized that crafts representing carnivores had very little similarity to the animals they were meant to represent. I began working with a few artists to improve products representing cheetahs. While continuing to manage cheetah research, I initiated conversations with the other partners and identified several community groups to serve as the pilot for products marketed by ACK under the project we called COOL Crafts.We selected COOL to represent the cheetah, Owl, otter and lions that our respective projects studied. Our product line initially focused on cheetahs, but has grown to encompass all the carnivores represented in our logo. We formed partnerships with Kenyan artists who sought unique marketing opportunities for their products and worked together to improve product quality.
Between 2003 and 2008 we brought crafts to fund raising events and found a great interest in the unique works as well as some of the traditional items. We then discussed the idea of COOL Crafts with each of our artist groups and three of our original founders decided to pursue the project.
Dr. Darcy Ogada and Ester Karimi are co-founders of COOL Crafts. Darcy is the Assistant Director of Africa Programs for The Peregrine Fund. Since 2000, Darcy focused on reducing threats of wildlife owl and vulture poisoning in Africa. She has a long-term association with a community protecting owls in central Kenya and supports their owl-focused crafts. Ester met her husband, Moses, when she applied as a painter in his small wood carving business in 1998. Ester now manages the business side of their craft production which is the model for community projects to produce quality crafts in support of sustainable conservation. She empowers the community through teaching them the art of wood carving and realistic painting.
We pilot-tested items at conferences for zoo and aquarium audiences to ensure the business is feasible. Four facilities in the US have carried our products since 2011 and have been unable to keep them on the shelf at the quantity we can currently provide. Jameson Weston joined the project in 2014 to run the US distribution and online sales. Jameson has worked in Graphic design at Utah’s Hogle Zoo since 1990. He is an artist and has accepted a position with COOL to coordinate import of inventory and distribution of the handcrafts.
In 2014, we surveyed 12 zoos and two concession distributors working with an additional 28 zoos. All of the larger facilities expressed an interest in our product if we can provide adequate stock to fill orders in a timely basis. To date, COOL Crafts had not advertised our products and all sales have been by word of mouth. We believe with further advertising and increased benefits to our local Kenyan communities we can launch a successful organization that will also provide support to carnivore conservation and educational programmes.
In 2015, we began the process of registering CaLL in the US to allow the COOL Craft project to be fully launched in 2016. We have been applying to grants and investors for staff, community business training, the purchase of initial stock and promotional materials (online sales, packaging and tags on the goods, and conference attendance).
- Year established:2009
- Organization type:Grantseeker
- Country of registration:United States
- Tax Determination Letter:Not Applicable
- IRS Section:501(c)(3)
- IRS Subsection:509(a)(1)
Types of funding being sought (i.e. funding type)
- None specified
Program areas of focus and activity (i.e. funding cause)
- None specified
Geographic areas of focus and activity (i.e. geographic area)
- None specified