Animal related

Big Life Foundation USA

aka Big Life Foundation   |   Ridgefield, WA   |  www.biglife.org

Mission

On the ground in East Africa, partnering with communities to protect nature for the benefit of all.

Ruling year info

2011

Co-Founder

Nick Brandt

Co-Founder & Director of Operations in Africa

Richard Bonham

Main address

1715 North Heron Drive

Ridgefield, WA 98642 USA

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EIN

27-3455389

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Big Life works to address the crisis of poaching and trafficking of ivory, rhino horn, and other endangered animal parts, as well as the rapidly escalating threat of human-wildlife conflict, while providing a mutual benefit through conservation to the members of the local Maasai communities who share these wild lands.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Big Life strives to prevent the poaching of elephants and all wildlife within our area of operation, which consists of more than 30 permanent outposts and tent-based field units, tracker dogs, and aerial surveillance. In addition to preventing poaching before it happens, we track and apprehend wildlife criminals and collaborate with local prosecutors to ensure that they are punished to the fullest extent of the law. One of the largest employers of local Maasai in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, our rangers are expertly trained and well-equipped to tackle a variety of wildlife crimes. As a result, poaching activity in our area of operation, whether for trafficking or bush meat, has dropped significantly since our inception in 2010.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Big Life works in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to protect the endangered Eastern black rhino population in the Chyulu Hills area. Together, we conduct extensive foot patrols, aerial surveillance, and monitoring via camera traps. We also provide reliable, year-round access to protected watering points in this remote wilderness area to discourage rhinos from wandering beyond our area of operation in search of water during the dry seasons.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

For Maasai herders, their cattle are their livelihood. When livestock falls prey to local predators, like lions or hyenas, the herders are financially disadvantaged and justifiably frustrated. To prevent herders from retaliating with spears or poisoned carcasses, Big Life incentivizes members of our partner communities to protect their livestock through improved fencing and husbandry practices.

In the event that an animal is lost to a predator through no fault of the herder, Big Life will compensate the herder for a percentage of the market value of the animal. This small consolation is significant to the Maasai, and as a result, retaliatory killings have been dramatically reduced in the area, with lion and other predator populations now on the rise.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
People of African descent

As the human population increases, so do competing land-uses, such as farming and cattle grazing. Fighting for desperately limited resources like water and grass, humans encroach further and further onto what once were wild lands. With less space to share, people and animals now come into contact at an alarming rate, often with catastrophic and deadly results. Big Life works in partnership with the local Maasai to mitigate the impact of wildlife interactions, such as crop-raiding by hungry elephants, both for the people and the animals.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
People of African descent

Fighting wildlife crimes helps the ecosystem today, but winning the hearts and minds of the community and providing a mutual benefit through conservation is the only way to protect wildlife and wild lands far into the future. Big Life invests in the future of participating communities by funding teachers’ salaries, providing scholarship funds for local students, and conducting conservation workshops. When the entire community benefits from conservation efforts and recognizes the value of protecting the ecosystem, enforcement becomes self-policing.

Population(s) Served
K-12 (5-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)

In 2008, the cultural fathers of the new warrior generation asked Maasailand Preservation Trust—now Big Life Foundation—to help them eliminate lion hunting from the Maasai culture. In response, we partnered with the local Maasai to create the first-ever Maasai Olympics: the hunt for medals, not lions. This biennial event is a critically important—and effective—part of the initiative to create a cultural shift in attitudes of the Maasai toward a broader commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
People of African descent

Where we work

Awards

Member 2016

1% For The Planet

Recipient 2016

Best in America Charities Seal

Top-Rated Charity 2016

Great Nonprofits

Member 2017

1% For The Planet

Recipient 2017

Best in America Charities Seal

Top-Rated Charity 2017

Great Nonprofits

Member 2018

1% For The Planet

Member 2019

1% For The Planet

Recipient 2018

Best in America Charities Seal

Recipient 2019

Best in America Charities Seal

Top-Rated Charity 2018

Great Nonprofits

Affiliations & memberships

Combined Federal Campaign 2016

Combined Federal Campaign 2017

Combined Federal Campaign 2018

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Charity 2018

Combined Federal Campaign 2019

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Charity 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of kilometers patrolled by Big Life Rangers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This reflects the total # of km patrolled to date since Big Life's inception in 2011. The total for 2019 was 395,630 km in Kenya (93,140 km by foot + 302,490 km by vehicle).

Arrests since 2011

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This reflects the total number of arrests made to date since Big Life's inception in 2011. The total for 2019 was 379 suspects arrested.

Poaching tools seized since 2011

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This reflects the total number of poaching tools confiscated to date since Big Life's inception in 2011. In 2019, Big Life rangers confiscated more than 732 kg of ivory.

Number of Maasai rangers employed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number fluctuates and is an approximation. In 2019, Big Life employed more than 350 field staff--including 249 trained rangers.

Number of permanent outposts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In addition to our permanent outposts, Big Life also has rapid deployment and tent-based field units who actively patrol the ecosystem.

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

in Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem of East Africa

Number of student scholarships awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

K-12 (5-19 years),Young Adults (20-25 years)

Related Program

Education & Scholarships

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This includes students from primary and secondary school through university and medical school.

Number of teachers' salaries paid

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People of African descent

Related Program

Education & Scholarships

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Big Life invests in the future of participating communities by funding teachers’ salaries, providing scholarship funds for local students, and implementing conservation-specific curriculum.

Number of legal cases concluded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Wildlife Protection - Anti-Poaching

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Of the 14 cases concluded in 2019, 18 suspects were convicted and sentenced. 183 cases remained ongoing at the end of the year, and Big Life continues to monitor their progress and status in court.

Number of lion hunts stopped

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Predator Protection

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our rangers intervened to prevent 11 lion hunts in 2019, in collaboration with Lion Guardians and Kenya Wildlife Service. 6 lions were killed in violation of our Predator Compensation Fund in 2019.

Number of livestock animals killed by predators, for which compensation was issued

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Related Program

Predator Protection

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2019, Big Life compensated Maasai herders for the loss of 320 cows, 2,593 sheep/goats, and 21 donkeys as incentive not to kill lions or other predators in retaliation.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Big Life Foundation USA (“Big Life") seeks to protect and sustain East Africa's wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa.<br/><br/>As the first organization to support coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border in East Africa, Big Life recognizes that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through a community-based collaborative approach, which is at the heart of Big Life's philosophy: when conservation supports the people, the people will support conservation. <br/><br/>Big Life's vision is to establish a successful holistic conservation model across the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem that can be replicated throughout the African continent.

Big Life pursues its mission by utilizing innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks and government agencies. <br/><br/>Our model is scalable and replicable. By leveraging our partnerships, we can contiguously expand our areas of operation and provide guidance for other partners throughout Africa interested in creating the kind of community partnerships we're pioneering across the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem.

Big Life Foundation USA supports one of the largest employers of local Maasai in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem (Big Life Kenya), helping to fund hundreds of rangers and support staff on the ground in Africa to protect wildlife and wild lands for the benefit of all. Our headquarter offices at Mbirikani Group Ranch include a mechanic garage for vehicle repair, barracks and employee housing, and administrative offices. Field operations currently feature 30 ranger outposts, 13 Land Cruisers, a rapid deployment unit, 3 tracker dogs and handlers, and 2 airplanes used for aerial surveillance. In Tanzania, we've partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Honeyguide Foundation to implement Big Life operations in critical areas along the border. In addition to our on-the-ground programs implemented by Big Life Limited Kenya, Big Life Foundation USA collaborates with two Big Life entities outside of Africa, whose shared focus is to provide fundraising and administrative support. Big Life Foundation USA is a registered charity and has three full time employees and a Board of Directors. Big Life Foundation Canada and Big Life UK are also registered charities in their respective countries and are governed by independent Boards of Directors.

Big Life will continue to measure progress based on our success with preventing wildlife crimes and working to be sure criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will continue to implement innovative strategies to prevent poaching operations and other wildlife crimes.

Big Life Foundation USA helps to fund Big Life Kenya's rangers, who have patrolled more than 2.5 million km across the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, made over 3,000 arrests of wildlife criminals, and confiscated more than 3,800 illegal tools and weapons from poachers and traffickers since our inception. In addition to creating a stable work force and investing in the local community through education and scholarships, Big Life has managed to turn conservation of wildlife species into a money-making venture for the communities such that poaching and retaliatory killings have been significantly reduced. Now that the ecosystem is known to poachers as protected, we face new challenges. One is the need to create a stable funding source so that our current area of operation continues to be successfully protected for decades to come, but also to increase our funding resources so that we may expand contiguously to adjacent areas. In particular, we need to expand our predator compensation program to additional ranches. A second challenge is related to human population expansion: as community farms encroach on wildlife migratory corridors, so will the incidences of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) increase. Our tactics must evolve to mitigate HWC as well as protect from illegal poaching.

Financials

Big Life Foundation USA
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Big Life Foundation USA

Board of directors
as of 9/3/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Greg Brandt

No Affiliation

Nick Brandt

Orla Brady

Richard Bonham

Tom Hill

Dereck Joubert

Mike Silvestrini

Chris Sattler

Barry Turkus

Neen Koenigsbauer

Jon Cummings

Greg Gubitz

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Keywords

Big Life, elephants, Nick Brandt, anti-poaching, ivory, preservation of wildlife, elephant conservation, Big Life Foundation, Big Life Foundation USA, rangers, rhinos, lions, Maasai, habitat protection, anti-trafficking, education, scholarships, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, conservation, habitat protection