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Big Life Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Environment, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Protection of Endangered Species, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: Our Mission: On the ground in East Africa, partnering with communities for the benefit of all. Big Life uses innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks and government agencies, Big Life Foundation seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa. The first organization in East Africa with coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border, Big Life recognizes that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through a community-based collaborative approach, which is at the heart of Big Life’s philosophy : Conservation supports the people and people support conservation. Big Life’s vision is to establish a successful holistic conservation model in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem that can be replicated across the African continent.

Results: Approximately 350 field staff, including 250 trained rangers, are spread across more than 40 permanent outposts, mobile units (including a Rapid Deployment Unit) and observation posts covering roughly 2M acres of wilderness. Big Life also employs aerial surveillance and uses tracker dogs to patrol within our area of operation. Since 2011, Big Life rangers have patrolled nearly 2M km of wilderness, making over 2,400 arrests and confiscating over 3,500 poaching tools. In 2016, Big Life rangers patrolled over 232,000 km by vehicle and nearly 79,000 km on foot. As a result, they dealt with a number of crimes ranging from poaching to habitat destruction to community crimes. In total, there were 243 people arrested for 119 incidents. Nearly 500 poaching or habitat destruction tools were impounded, including 113 snares, 58 arrows, 50 machetes, etc. In addition to the tools, 410 kg of ivory, 8 animals skins, and 5 kg of marijuana were also confiscated. MAASAI OLYMPICS The third biennial Maasai Olympics was held in December 2016, in which local Maasai athletes compete for medals, not lions. Maasai tribes historically identify leaders and demonstrate bravery through lion hunts, but there are simply not enough lions left for the tradition to continue. This competition promotes conservation education and provides a viable cultural alternative to lion hunting.

Target demographics: To protect and sustain East Africa’s wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in the region.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Endangered East African wildlife including elephants and rhinos. Local East African indigenous communities.

Geographic areas served: East Africa (Kenya & Tanzania)

Programs: Anti-Poaching Rangers, Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation, Rhino Project, Predator Compensation Fund, Tracker Dogs, Community Employment, Education and Scholarships, Conservation Through Sports (Maasai Olympics)

Community Stories

65 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Jane Michaelides-Smith

Donor

Rating: 5

I’ve been a supporter of Big Life for almost five years now & will continue as a lifelong supporter. They have proven to be successful in all aspects of true conservation. I consider Big Life to be a model to all involved in the interest of helping protect all wildlife, habitats, as well as educate and support surrounding communities.

Donor

Rating: 5

This nonprofit is an excellent provider of protection to the wildlife in Africa! I am especially impressed by the fact that they work with the local population to educate about the horrendous practice of poaching. They train and employ the local population to patrol and prevent poaching. Big Life organizes the local peole in other types of competitive life experiences. I feel Big Life is an exemplary non-profit that other groups could look at to improve their practices. Thank you, Big Life, for all you do!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Big Life has accomplished amazing feats when it comes to protecting some Africa's most beautiful wild creatures while also helping local communities. The work they do is necessary, vital, and an important example of how if we work together, we can come up with good solutions that benefit everyone involved. Hopefully, because of the work of this organization and their supporters, the beauty of these wild creatures will remain for generations to come.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you for your AMAZING efforts to save these majestic animals! I’m grateful your foundation exists!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Big Life continues to do the important and effective work to save these incredible creatures. If you value true wildlife advocacy, the kind that makes a difference, you should be supporting them and their work.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization that tries to work with communities to find solutions that ultimately protect the wildlife, support these folks!!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Big Life Foundation’s work in Africa is inspiring. The work with the animals and villagers is a role model for this kind of work. The project shows a great view of sustainability and promotes the best kind of partnership and collaboration among farmers, villagers and their neighboring wildlife. The integrity and respect that are integral to the foundation showcase the best of non profit organization.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Big Life Foundation's work in Africa to help preserve wildlife as well as helping realign cultural traditions in favor of conservation is truly impressive!

Nicholas Dante D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing organization that promotes a great initiative. Really excited to see how Big Life Foundation expands in the coming months and years, so happy to be part of it in a small way and help along the journey.

Ryan W.2

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a tremendous organization staffed by outstanding, idealistic, and conscientious professionals who are working hard to protect wildlife in Africa and promote the larger cause of taking care of the natural world. I have donated my hard-earned money to this organization and will continue to do so; they have a clear vision and are highly effective and strategic about pursuing it.

Sandy B.6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Definitely a wonderful organization. Their collaboration with LOCAL communities as well as other larger agencies allows them to make strides not often seen. I love their community based collaborative approach-- its a win win.

2 twalter

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love and care for our planet, and appreciate what Big Life Foundation does to protect such a special place in East Africa. For me, being able to replicate and produce tangible success is important. Big Life's results speak for themselves and their dedication to wildlife, habitat, and community is vital for a working relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. I'm a proud Ranger Club member as well!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Any NGO that gives a voice to those that don't have one, is the NGO to support in my personal opinion. The work these guys do on a daily basis is what will determine whether my kids or grandchildren will ever have the opportunity to ever encounter these incredible animals in the wild. Well done to everyone involved.

1 Barbara M.

Donor

Rating: 5

We've supported Big Life Foundation for many years--they are simply one of the best organizations working to protect African wildlife.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a Big Life donor for several years, and I’m continually impressed by the breadth of work they do. Big Life has done an incredible job of raising awareness about the fate of elephants and the illicit trading of ivory. Not only does Big Life combat poaching of elephants by putting “boots on the ground”, but they also work with community members to comprehend the economic value of these fragile creatures. I respect Big Life’s collaborative approach, which helps the communities understand the “big picture” of why it’s important to sustain their environment, in order to sustain themselves. Additionally, Big Life provides hundreds of jobs, and enables children to have access to education through scholarships and partnerships with schools. I’m confident my donations are making a difference. We can’t let the elephant suffer the same fate as the rhino!

1 Alana G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family has been a big supporter of Big Life for a few years now and will continue to donate!

Big Life is doing an incredible job at not only protecting the African wildlife but also educating people on the effects of poaching.


1 Tricia30

Donor

Rating: 5

The Big Life Foundation's successful "feet-on-the-ground" work cannot be replaced. They do great work protecting vulnerable wildlife. Their rangers do work that few people are willing to do. Big Life's mission to find win/win solutions for the communities are one of the elements I value most. They are a phenomenal nonprofit !

1

Donor

Rating: 5

.... Our planet needs conservationists and healers who hold for a brighter future. Our role as ELEPHANT advocates is to bring the great guardians to centerstage, to engage and fight for this amazing species. Our responsibility is vast yet the reward is everlasting❤️

1 Margaret89

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a monthly donor to Big Life Foundation for several years. They stepped up when the African elephant poaching was out of control and established teams to patrol in the Kenya Amboseli region and also in Tanzania. They have never faltered in doing all they can to keep elephants safe. They continue to expand their role in helping other animals and also helping the humans who live in the same areas with these animals, plus going after poachers to bring them to justice. I don't want to think about what could have happened to the wildlife if Big Life Foundation hadn't been formed.

2 Barry T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Big Life's vision is based on an elegantly simple circlular concept. By supporting the local Maasai communities with jobs that support Big Life's conservation effort, providing educational scholarships for the Massai children and offering health care services to the Maasai communities, the communities in turn will support conservation. As a result of Big Life's work the Maasai people they realize that if the poaching and killing of wildlife continues they will be the ones to suffer; their jobs and all of the services that Big Life provides as will all of the tourist who visit this vast Amboseli Kilimanjaro ecosystem will completely disappear. This model deserves to be replicated throughout Africa. It has been extremely successful - it works. And that's why my wife and I support Big Life in a big way.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was on a mission to find the most effective model in conservation to ensure that my financial and volunteer contributions got the most mileage possible.... after passing on many, I found Big Life. I visited opperations during my diligence and was convinced. In the following years, they have continued to navigate the incredible challanges of conservation with class and efficiency. The world need Big Life.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Amazing nonprofit. Huge impact. My #1 place to donate and support!

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been to east Africa twice so far with plans to continue to visit this wonderful and vast area which holds such spectacular wildlife. In our two previous visits to Africa, it was obvious that the awe-inspiring work that Big Life does on a continuing basis to protect elephants and other wildlife and their habitat while taking measures to minimize human-wildlife conflict is without precedent!

The Big Life Foundation is absolutely critical to the well-being of African elephants and other wildlife. Without their intervention and vigilance to stop poaching and maintain habitat, I am convinced that we would soon see the complete collapse of the elephant population.

My wife and I continue to provide funding to the Big Life Foundation so their dedicated personnel on the ground in Africa can continue to do the hard, but necessary work to preserve these special animals.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife and I just returned from safari in Kenya/Tanzania, and we heard a lot about how the poaching situation is getting better. Early on, Big Life was mentioned and we told our safari guide that we knew all about Big Life and had been sending contributions for several years now. It was so gratifying to be in the parks and hear about all the good that’s happening.
As part of our tour, we had the pleasure of visiting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and meeting one of the little elephant orphans we’ve been sponsoring. Again, Big Life was talked about as a lifesaver for so many of the little elephants living there.
Toward the end of our journey we had the wonderful George Kamonde as our safari director. George, also, talked to us about the hazards the animals face and mentioned Big Life as one of the great organizations that was saving animals and combating poaching. When we told him we knew all about Big Life, he was thrilled and told us that he had been one of the guys to take Nick Brandt out on safari. He also told us we needed to visit the Big Life office and tour the area. Next time – it’s on our list!
We all make contributions to needs/projects that are near and dear to our hearts; but often you never get to really see the difference your money makes. It was immensely satisfying to see some of the areas where Big Life is working, see some of the animals Big Life has saved, and hear from the people on the ground about the progress that’s being made.
We wish BLF all the best and are so pleased to be a small part of their work.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating and loving BIG LIFE for years. They are the only agency that truly tries to get the poachers, have dedicated rangers and training programs, as well as committed interaction with the communities. Almost all (if not all) the donations go directly to the program. Both Nick Brandt and Richard Bonham have been protecting these wonderful elephants for many years and in many ways. Having had first hand experience working with elephants in South Africa, I cannot emphasize enough how necessary and wonderful the work that they are doing for all of us. Five stars are not enough for their fabulous dedication and hard work

PaulPatricia

Donor

Rating: 5

Big Life foundation protects the endangered species in East Africa. The poaching has decreased with their program on the involvement of local communities and paroling the Kenya-Tanzania borders. They are a model for their multi layer approach to protect conservation. They are to be commended for the work they do. Our wild life is precious. The community involvement gives the people pride in their land and animals.

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I admire the hard and efficient work Big Life is doing. Keep it up.

Donor

Rating: 5

Big Life Foundation has granted me the opportunity to help protect amazing animals such as the African Elephant from poaching through donations. I wish I had the opportunity to be onsite to provide assistance with park protection, park ecological remediation and any other tasks that need to be done to provide protection and conservation to the elephant population. I believe Big Life Foundation is working very hard to save and protect rare and priceless animals. Moreover, I believe very strongly in the work Big Life foundation is conducting and I will continue to provide donations to aid their efforts.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Big Life! They do such great work to help wildlife and local communities in East Africa.

Donor

Rating: 5

I support Big Life because of their tangible, on-the-ground programs in East Africa. Big Life is the model for protecting Africa’s incredible wildlife through the engagement of local communities. They undertake a long-term, multilayered approach to conservation, which makes them a joy to donate to. Keep up the good work!

- George Hatcher

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The work Big Life does is critical and will decide if our kids and grandkids have the great fortune to live in a world with wild elephants, big cats, rhinos and other iconic African wildlife. We're all connected and what happens in Africa will write our story across the planet.

Donor

Rating: 5

96 elephants a day across Africa are killed for their ivory. At that rate, we have maybe 12 or so years left of wild elephants in Africa. Last year, Big Life only lost one elephant to poachers in their area of operation. That's an incredible success rate! And only the tip of the iceberg of their programs protecting lions, rhino and other critical wildlife, all done in collaboration with the local community. Cannot recommend Big Life enough.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

While every NGO prides itself on laudable goals, too few can pride distinguish themselves by their means in the way Big Life can.

By empowering local communities to find self-interest in conservation, Big Life succeeds in building the real local support that best preserves a lasting legacy.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Passion for conservation, innovative practices, educating the local people and public. bolstering the communities in which they work. Those are the characteristics that attracted me to Big Life and I am never disappointed. Thank you Big Life, the difference you make, makes all the difference in the world!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Meaningful and innovative work being done locally and internationally to protect the large animals of Africa. Big Life works diligently to seek solutions to conflicts presented by an expanding modernity and the needs of the natural world.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What an amazing foundation. Not only to they save and conserve wild animals but they boost the local communities at the same time!

CindyPeach

Donor

Rating: 5

For 6 years did my husband and I patiently wait to attend a photo exhibition of Nick Brandt, co-founder of Big Life Foundation. First, to see Brandt's trilogy "ON THIS EARTH, A SHADOW FALLS ACROSS THE RAVAGED LAND" in Ulm, Germany then to Paris for his latest collection "INHERIT THE DUST", we are fully charged with anticipation!
Not only is Nick Brandt my artist of choice, director of the Michael Jackson "Earth Song" video and does he personally answer E-mails...he's a God-send whose life-changing work shatters one's ignorance...particularly, this latest collection in which he photographs his life-size images of African wildlife in their former natural settings now transformed beyond their habitation.
Together with Big Life co-founder Richard Bonham and their team of Rangers, they are the first organization in East Africa of coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border.
Peace,
Cindy Barg
Artist

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have followed the success 0f BIG LIFE on line seeing their outstanding work and success stories in reducing the poaching nightmare within their area of operations. I was fortunate on two visits to meet the staff as well as several game scouts/rangers on the job as well as witness the coordinated efforts to treat wounded animals. The warrior class now competes with each other athletically in the Maasai Olympics rather than spearing lions to prove their prowess and bravery. I know of no other NGO as effective in dealing with poaching and human wildlife conflict.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Huge Kudos to BLF - this last year you have once again led the battle against poaching from the front..... Its a war that will still take time to win - sustained interaction with communities and vigilant protection will get us there.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Big Life are showing the way forward to conservation in Africa - I greatly admire their tireless dedication, enthusiasm and passion. keep up the amazing work.

Donor

Rating: 5

I visited the headquarters of Big Life twice in 2013, and heard from their conservation staff about their programs to protect lions and elephants by passing tourist revenue on to the community, through employment, education, and incentives for co-existing peacefully with animals. I was very impressed by their work, and have supported them in developing a partnership with Oakland Zoo.

They are my heroes in conservation work!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Big Life generates the largest impact, dollar for dollar, out of any Africa wildlife based non profit. i found this to be true for two main reasons: 1) the passion and quality of their management and staff 2) the impact of their innovative programs like Predator Compensation Fund and Maasai Olympics.
The platform they have created works and now needs to spread to cover more territory in more countries.

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization is not only doing great work, but very important work. I encourage everyone I know to contribute and support Big Life.

Kristin70

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I hold this organization close to my heart as it continues to exceed my expectations with the work it does for something I feel so passionately about.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a regular donor and fundraiser for Big Life's programs since 2010. On several occasions, I have been pleased to learn my contributions were put to work in the field within days of receipt and helped provide supplies that allowed the rangers to catch bad guys. I have never worked with an organization that put my money to work so quickly. I also love reading the Bush and Big Life News on their website to learn more about their challenges and success stories.

Donor

Rating: 5

Such an important NGO, doing vital work on the front line in Africa.
I support their work because they do what they say and they get results.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It has been an honour to be associated and involved with such a top rate organization. The work that Big Life does everyday has had an enormous impact on saving Elephants and protecting wildlife within the ares in Africa where they operate. My hope is that the operations can be continuously expanded to include a even greater area of protection for the threatened species.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I set up Big Life Canada as a sister organization to Big Life Foundation four years ago in response to the many Canadians who wanted to help support Big Life's conservation work in East Africa. Big Life's approach, its people and their ability to make a positive impact is remarkable. What has been accomplished in a short period of time is very impressive. I have seen for myself the Big Life operations in Africa and am grateful every day to be associated with such a fine group of committed people who are actually making a difference.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the board of Big Life Canada four years ago to help stop the unprecedented slaughter of elephants in East Africa. In four years, I have witnessed how the Big Life approach of engaging with the local community, the dedication of all of its rangers, staff and volunteers can make a difference...and hopefully save this treasure for future generations.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Big Life's accomplishments in a relatively short period of time have earned the respect of donors as well as other NGOs, while its commitment to local communities - from supporting education, to capacity building, to mitigating human-wildlife conflict - has resulted in fantastic working partnerships throughout the Amboseli ecosystem. Rangers are highly regarded and work closely with the people living adjacent to protected areas, elephant and rhino poaching has been massively curtailed, and lion populations are increasing. Big Life's strong leadership - Richard Bonham, Nick Brandt and Kim McCoy -are to be hugely commended. I am proud to be involved with this wonderful organisation.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I have followed the progress of this organization for a few years now. Rarely have I seen a group of people so committed or so effective. Big Life has cut through all the usual conservation rhetoric and developed ingenious and creative ways of taking action. The area they manage is now a secure haven for wildlife as well as a place where the local community benefits. The people are empowered and are now willing custodians of the natural treasures around them. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Big Life HQ and hear from the people on the ground. They are a truly inspiring, courageous and determined group of individuals.

Donor

Rating: 5

Fully behind you, your efforts, your people. My only disappointment being the inability to do far more.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

While it's common to find conservation charities that work overseas, it's truly remarkable how inter-culturally respectful Big Life is, empowering local folks on the ground to care for their own communities. I'm glad they helping save the majestic and precious elephants and rhinos from extinction, and I'm glad they're conscientious about *how* they're striving towards that future.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for organizations like BLF who preserve wildlife and our environment while supporting local communities. It gives me great hope for a brighter future for our children. Thank you so much for your hard work.

Donor

Rating: 5

As a mother I hold deep gratitude for BLF continued efforts to help protect and save our wildlife for years to come. Without BLF our future generations most likely will not be able to see and learn from such beautiful creatures. I will be eternally grateful for their efforts and continue to look forward to further success on behalf of BLF.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love the way Big Life incorporates the "boots on the ground" concept with community involvement. The best way to halt the destruction of the natural resources that make East Africa so fertile, is to have laws in place that protect the environment. But laws are not enough, you need to have buy-in from the communities that are most effected by the parks. Big Life does all this and more. My (safari) hat is off to them!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have had the good fortune to see this non profit in action and to know some of their members for many years. Their intentions are noble and their ability to translate those intentions into action is nothing short of amazing. Big Life does a great job at bringing solutions to problems that are half way around the world into our lives.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The work that this organization provides is profound. I support them fully!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A far reaching institution that furthers animal conservation.

Donor

Rating: 5

An outstandingly effective organization. I have followed this organization for a few years now and feel that Amboseli is more secure thanks to the life-saving efforts of BLF.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Exceptional non-profit that plays a critical role in protecting some of Earth's critical wildlife habitat.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Big Life Foundation has boots on the ground to protect endangered animals. They provide intensive training of their staff and maintain a sharp focus on critical issues of poaching for profit.

Donor

Rating: 5

They do such important work! Great staff, great people, and such beautiful animals saved.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Three cheers for the anti-poaching rangers! Direct action gets results. Kudos to Big Life.

AlexEarl

Donor

Rating: 5

I believe in grassroots and direct action conservation that is inclusive of local people and empowers them to be part of the solution. Big Life represents all of this and so much more. I could not be prouder to be a donor. I encourage anyone who cares about the fate of our planet and critically endangered animals to review their programs and donate today. Your funds will be used wisely and effectively for the greatest results - animals and their environment saved. At the rate they are being poached African elephants will be extinct in less than ten years. Many African rhino species are already on the edge of extinction. These are animals that have been on our planet for tens of millions of years and which play a critical role in their ecosystems. Yet we are losing them on our watch and they are literally disappearing before our eyes. The positive news is that Big Life Foundation and it's team of brave rangers are on the front lines of this battle using innovative tactics to deliver highly effective results.