Photo by Weldon Kennedy

Photo by Weldon Kennedy

The BigLife Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of African wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants in East Africa.  Founded in 2010 by conservationist Richard Bonham and photographer Nick Brandt, the operation keeps a watchful eye on 2 million acres in the  Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem of East Africa.

They’ve thoughtfully architected a structure of 31 outposts, staffed by hundreds of local Maasai Mari tribesmen who maintain constant vigilance with co-ordinated cross-border anti-poaching operations.  


Here’s the story of philanthropist and solavore Lorraine Thirion as she travels to Kenya in pursuit of her two passions:  protecting wildlife and sharing the magic of solar cooking.


In for the long haul, BigLife is committed to enriching the lives of the Maasai Mari on whose villages their efforts depend.  They build schools, fund scholarships, and grow sustainable economy through ecotourism.  But their souls are wrenched when they see Maasai women scouring wood miles away from their villages, in the process damaging the very habitat upon which the game they are struggling to protect depend.  

Is solar cooking a viable alternative?

BigLife and Solavore have set out to answer this question together. Will the Maasai entertain ugali, a polenta-like side dish made with maize meal, cooked in the Solavore Sport?  Sukuma wiki, braised kale and tomatoes? So far, so good.

Today I was flying over a very remote area of the Chyulus and saw several groups of women collecting firewood from what must have been a 4-hour walk from their village [plus they were taking from a National Park] and it made me think back to the oven project and how important it is and what we must now do.
— Richard Bonham, Director of Operations, Big Life
 photo by Leo Li

photo by Leo Li

We’re on it, Richard.