A purpling dusk spreads over Kenya's lion country, slowly revealing a million-star-sequined canopy.
At the emerald foothills of Kilimanjaro, the dull roar of black-maned lions carries on the wind as the Maasai set up lanterns around the raised wooden platforms. It is here on privately managed group ranches, an integral outskirt of the Mara and Amboseli ecosystems, that models for balanced human-wildlife co-existence brings its message to light: A World Heritage for all Mankind. Private game reserves set aside for the protection of Kenya’s big game; Lions, Elephants, Rhino, Buffalo, Leopards — and more. Balancing conservation and community with commerce for a low-impact tourism audience, our partners in the Great Plains Foundation aim to save these vast tracts of lands with support from its real custodians; The Maasai community, joint-owners of this vast and ravishing wilderness. The lands that these tribespeople behold have been reshaped, long threatened by poaching and population growth. The support from tourism is imperative to helping sustain Africa’s wildlife heritage and provide a shielded haven for the endangered animals that inhabit here. “All of our work — filming, photography, research, tourism and the Big Cats Initiative — fits into a single lifelong goal, to make a difference for conservation,” say National Geographic documentary makers and founders of the Great Plains Foundation, Beverly & Dereck Jourbert. Addressing existing wildlife populations and impact on migratory routes, initiatives in all our wilderness regions monitor, study and seek solutions to save endangered species and, where necessary, team up with partner projects to manage and balance species population dynamics with supporting eco-systems. Through ongoing studies, conflicts of human development upon animal migration are identified and viable projects with objectives upon co-existence outlined. Well-known Kenyan tracker and conservationist Richard Bonham of the Big Life Foundation is a founder of the Maasailand Preservation Trust, a community game scout program at Mbirikani Ranch in Amboseli. The Bonham family history is famed as East Africa’s key wardens in the establishment of the Selous Rhino Trust and advocates for the last remaining Rhino populations in the local area.