Beads for Wildlife

When you support Beads for Wildlife, you are helping to improve the lives of the people and animals of Northern Kenya. Buy yours today at zoo.org.au/shop

Each handmade Beads for Wildlife piece you purchase provides a woman in Northern Kenya with the choice of a reliable income that doesn't impact local wildlife!

Beads for Wildlife helps:

  • Provide crucial support for 900 families. One woman beadwork artisan can earn enough income to support her entire family
  • Increase the number of critically endangered Grevy's Zebras seen in the Melako area of Northern Kenya
  • Reduce the community's reliance on large numbers of livestock which reduces competion with local wildlife for natural resources
  • Families to buy school uniforms (equates to only two bracelets) which enables their children to go to school
  • Improve food security and access to health care
  • Reduce violent conflicts between tribes as men feel less pressure to steal and fight over livestock

More Beads = Less Livestock = More Wildlife

News
Melako world cup tile

Zoos Victoria Launch Kicking Goals for Wildlife

As World Cup fever sweeps across Brazil more than 9,000 kilometres away in Northern Kenya, young warrior men are about to play their very first match in the Melako Conservation Football League.

12 June 2014
RMIT window display

A window into the world of Melako, Kenya

Students from RMIT University’s Diploma of Visual Merchandising have worked with us to help promote our international conservation partnership with Melako Community Conservancy in Northern Kenya, in a creative visual display at RMIT’s City campus.

11 June 2014
The Animals
Zebra at WORZ

Zebra

At Werribee Open Range Zoo you can see zebras, sociable and playful animals, at close quarters and in an open range setting.

baboons animal feature image

Hamadryas Baboon

Hamadryas Baboons are active and intelligent primates that have captivated Melbourne Zoo visitors since 1948. Their custom-built enclosure recreates the environment of the north-east African Savannah, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the complex social world of a baboon troop.

Giraffe

Giraffe

The expanding human population is encroaching on areas where giraffe formerly roamed freely. Visit the giraffes at Werribee Open Range Zoo to learn about these wondrous creatures as well as the Zoo’s conservation programs. 

FAQs

Question

Why has Zoos Victoria developed this campaign?

Answer

  • As a zoo-based conservation organisation we are committed to wildlife conservation.
  • Drought in Northern Kenya is threatening the survival of people and wildlife.
  • Endangered Grevy’s Zebra numbers are dropping due to competition with livestock for water and grazing.
  • The bead trade offers additional income to people and means they need to rely less on large numbers of livestock.
  • With more than 1.7 million visitors through Zoos Victoria’s gates each year, we have a unique opportunity to engage the community in action with real conservation outcomes

Question

What does the campaign hope to achieve?

Answer

Beads for Wildlife aims to:

  • Provide an additional source of income to families in Northern Kenya, alleviating the threats posed by drought to reduce their impact on local wildlife.
  • Raise public awareness of the Zoos Victoria and Melako Wildlife Conservancy partnership.
  • Provide the local community with the opportunity to join in conservation efforts through a tangible call to action.

Question

How does Beads for Wildlife help people and wildlife?

Answer

The bead trade provides women with and alternative income, allowing them to support their families whilst utilising a skill that is aligned with their cultural values. This money provides reprieve during times of drought. Families no longer need to struggle to keep high numbers of goats alive within this harsh climate to earn a living; the burden of livestock on the ecosystem is lessened which in turn lessens the burden on natural resources such as water, ultimately leaving more water for Critically Endangered species such as the Grevy’s Zebra.

Question

Why is the Grevy’s Zebra the ambassador animal for this campaign?

Answer

  • Melako is an important place for the Grevy's Zebra because it hosts the most significant population of this species in the northern area which is roughly 10 per cent of the population.
  • Other species also found in the area include African wild dogs, lions, elephants, beisa oryx, cheetahs, buffalos and giraffe.

Question

How does local cattle grazing impact on wildlife in Kenya?

Answer

The main issue facing the Grevy’s Zebra in Melako is lack of water. During the dry season the zebra’s share the same watering points as domestic livestock. The introduction of cattle to the grazing plains of local wildlife has brought increased competition for water which is already dangerously scarce for the Grevy’s Zebra.

Question

How does Beads for Wildlife help Baboons?

Answer

Melbourne Zoo chose the baboon as the ambassador species for the Beads for Wildlife Campaign as Northern Kenya is also home to the Yellow Baboon. Increase in competition for resources is also placing pressure on these wild baboons. The extra demand for beadwork means that women don’t need to rely as heavily on using palm fronds for weaving materials. Palms provide habitat for baboons, they are a super social highway and the backdrop for the life of the baboon troupe.

Question

What is the significance of the beadwork to local communities?

Answer

Traditionally done by the women of the tribe, beadwork identifies a person’s position in society and demonstrates a woman’s creative ability.

Like many tribes across Kenya, the colour of beads holds a special meaning for the Rendille Tribe.

Traditionally white and red beads are the most common because in times of drought (such as right now), the Rendille drink the blood and milk of their camels.

The wealth, marital status, even the age of a woman or the children she may have borne are all reflected in the jewellery she wears.

Question

Who are the Northern Rangelands Trust?

Answer

The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is a community led initiative, registered in 2004, whose members represent politically and socially marginalised pastoralist communities of Northern Kenya.

The Trust helps communities save wildlife in their regions while also building environmentally, socially and economically sustainable livelihoods.

The overall aim of NRT’s livestock program in Melako Community Conservancy is to cut livestock numbers by 20% thereby reducing community reliance on livestock and to examine alternative income streams.

Melako was established in 2005 and covers 33,000 hectares of Northern Kenya. It has a population of approximately 6000 people from the Rendille, Samburu and Boran tribal groups

Question

What happens to the money from the sold beadwork?

Answer

Werribee Open Range Zoo buys the products direct from NRT. The Trust then uses this money to pay the women for their beadwork, future purchases of bead products and it covers packaging and delivery costs.

Women make a 70% profit on the raw bead materials they buy from NRT after selling their finished pieces.

Women use this alternative income to buy vegetables, medicine, and to feed, clothe and send their children to school.

Question

Is the program ‘donating’ money to wildlife conservation?

Answer

Beads for Wildlife is a community trade campaign. It does not give ‘aid’ in the form of cash handouts, but rather aims to foster a sustainable trade relationship.

As a partner, we provide a market for the beadwork enterprise in Australia so women’s enterprises, such as the one that supplies Beads for Wildlife, can flourish.

Question

Where do the beads come from?

Answer

Czechoslovakian glass beads were originally brought to Eastern Africa by Arab traders who used them in exchange for ivory and other treasures.

Traders introduced many different coloured, shaped and sized beads which helped to produce the vibrant and contrasting coloured beadwork that typifies East Africa.

Today the enterprise continues to use Czechoslovakian glass and plastic beads.

Contact Zoos Victoria E: takeaction@zoo.org.au  P: (03) 9340 2744

Did you know?

Last Christmas 15,000 Australians gave a Beads for Wildlife Christmas gift, literally helping hundreds of people and wildlife survive Kenya’s worst drought in six decades!

The different colours of the beadwork represent various elements in the lives of the Rendille people:

Black: The people and life’s journey

Blue: The sky which provides water to the land

Green: The land that grows food for the cattle

White: The milk that nourishes the community

Red: The blood of the cow

Yellow: The animal skins

Orange: Hospitality that is offered to guests