Wildlife Works was founded in 1997 by Mike Korchinsky with a mission to create a market-based solution for wildlife conservation that provided real, sustainable development to local communities. Mike’s basic idea is that if you want wildlife, you have to make sure it works for local communities.
Wildlife Works’ first project was Rukinga, our wildlife sanctuary located between Tsavo East and West National parks in Southeastern Kenya, where the intense human-wildlife conflict was threatening to cut off a vital elephant migration corridor, and was driving wildlife populations down at a dramatic rate.
In partnership with the community, Wildlife Works committed to investing in local job creation, and the community agreed to stop clearing forest and killing wildlife. The first two local job creation activities in 1998 were the building of our eco factory and its team, and the creation of our unarmed rangers troop to patrol the wildlife corridor and educate the community about conservation. During the 2 years it took to build the factory and train the first 10 seamstresses, our rangers started seeing wildlife coming back and staying longer. They knew they were making an impact.
Wildlife Works Eco Factory released their first collection of organic cotton tees in 2001. With living wages and full health benefits, these women were finally able to provide for their families, without engaging in poaching or slash and burn agriculture. Today, our factory has over 70 full-time employees working in 2 buildings, buzzing along in the middle of the Kenyan bush! Meet some of our employees on our blog.
In 2009, Wildlife Works’ REDD+ conservation project expanded to employ over 300 local people, protect over 500,000 acres of dryland forest and serve over 116,000 community members through our various social, educational, health and economic programs.