Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
In northern Kenya, at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, once warring tribes are working together to protect critically endangered animals—with dramatically positive results. Here, rhino keeper Kamara hand-raises Kilifi, an 18-month-old rhino, along with two other baby rhinos. Kamara spends 12 hours every day watching over the vulnerable baby rhinos and loves these animals like his own children. He is part of the reason Kenya’s black rhinos, whose population had plummeted to near extinction, are doing so well here. Much needed attention has been focused on the plight of wildlife and the conflict between heavily armed poachers and increasingly militarized wildlife rangers. But very little has been said about the indigenous communities on the front lines of the poaching wars and the incredible work they do to protect these animals. They hold the key to saving Africa’s great animals.
National Geographic magazine photographer and Nikon Ambassador Ami Vitale has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit—all in keeping with her philosophy of “living the story.” Follow Ami on Instagram @amivitale.