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Amboseli Biosphere Reserve, Kenya

Located at the footsteps of Kilimanjaro, on the Kenyan side of the border, the Amboseli Biosphere Reserve has a variety of ecological zones, which include natural dry mountain forest, mountains, savannah rangelands, wetlands and swamps. These areas are home to a wide variety of species, including elephants, lions and giraffes.

The biosphere reserve was part of the UNESCO-MAB project ‘Biosphere Reserves for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Anglophone Africa (BRAAF)’ that had the objective to ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity in including local population in its sustainable use.

Designation date: 1980


Regional network:  AfriMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 798,298.7 ha

    • Core area(s): 39,206 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 213,921.2 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 545,171.5 ha

    Location: N/A

    Administrative Authorities

    Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

    Dr. Evangeline Njoka
    Secretary General
    P.O. Box: 72107-00200
    Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel.: +254 202229053


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    Ecological Characteristics

    Amboseli Biosphere Reserve is located in the south of Kenya at the border to Tanzania. Its ecosystem consists of basement plains, saline plains with fresh water swamps and the volcanic slopes of the Kilimanjaro. The vegetation reflects the mainly semi-arid environment.

    In the past decade, the population of elephants, giraffes and lions have increased, as opposed to poaching cases registered in the Biosphere Reserve, which have declined. However, the illegal harvesting for African Sandalwood tree (Osyris lanceolate) has soared. The plant’s essential oils are used in perfumes and cosmetics.



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The predominant and original population living in and around the biosphere reserve is the Masai. The economic activity traditionally has been through nomadic pastoralism, which has changed to livestock keeping through group ranching dairy farming. Tourism as one of key economic activity is increasingly embracing eco-tourism. The transition and buffer zones, have witnessed changes through group ranches being sub-divided and converted into crop farming. Other agribusiness enterprises including horticulture and floriculture have emerged because of infrastructural improvement. 

    Revenue generation for the National park has had a general annual increase over the past 10-20 years. There has noted improvement in involvement of the local community in conservation and tourism. In fact, community conservation areas such as the Selengei Conservation Area have created jobs for members of the local community, e.g. as game scouts, sanctuary managers or tourist guides.


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    Last updated: January 2019