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Maasai Mara Conservancies

The work of wildlife conservancies in Kenya's Maasai Mara integrates Maasai, tourism and wildlife interests through equitable decision rights and income participation.

Facts

Investee Maasai Mara Conservancies
Location Kenya
Sector Environment
Funding start 2016
Funding type Grants

 

Impact

Context

The Maasai Mara holds 25% of the country's remaining wildlife, but faces three interlinked challenges:

  • Threats and damages to the ecosystem (wildlife and vegetation) due to fencing, overgrazing and increased farming activities. This not only decimates the ecosystem's unique biodiversity, but also undermines its role in performing vital ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and water cycling.  
  • Poverty of the local Maasai population in the surrounding areas as the pre-existing conservancy models provided only few local economic benefits in terms of land-lease payments, employment and grazing land.
  • Exclusion of the local Maasai population from decision making regarding conservation and tourism related activities on their land.

Solution

  • Many conservancies in Kenya are run solely by tourist operators. The Mara conservancies have developed a unique conservancy model in which both tourism operators and the local Maasai landowners are equally represented on the conservancy board and involved in decision making.
  • The model empowers the Maasai economically through income from land leases and employment as rangers, as well as in the tourist camps within the conservancies. The local population (both land and non-land owners) also benefits from other co-created projects, including on women's empowerment, carbon capture, waste management or education.
  • Conservancies enable the Maasai to continue their traditional, pastorialist way of life as it allows for controlled grazing within conservancies. This limits overgrazing, serves to promote the health of the ecosystem and maintains the longevity of livestock farming - a significant activity of the Maasai culture.

Impact depth

  • The 16 Maasai Mara conservancies provide stable income for close to 16,000 households, benefitting almost 150,000 local people. 
  • Since the formation of the first conservancies, there has been a dramatic increase in wildlife, e.g. with Naboisho conservancy now believed to have one of the highest lion densities in Africa and is home to over 220 recorded bird species.
  • The conservancy model is being replicated with the aim to secure the entire Greater Mara Ecosystem (ca. 4’000 km2) other endangered ecosystems.

The model ensures:

    • Increased income to landowners: up to 3x from earned land-lease fees and additional income from employment within the conservancy.
    • Wildlife protection: the Naboisho model encourages co-existence between local communities and wildlife thus reducing human wildlife conflicts.
    • Improved quality of life: through benefits achieved through Naboisho programs that support access to clean water, access to renewable energy, education programs, and the promotion of women’s economic activity.

SDGs

By supperting the Maasai Mara Conservancies, we align with and contribute to seven of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

LGT Venture Philanthropy has become one of the key players in preserving and scaling the protection of the Maasai Mara Serengeti wildlife ecosystem, which contains some 40% of Africa’s larger mammals.

Svein Wilhelmsen, Founder of Basecamp/Board Member MANCO of Mara Naboisho Wildlife Conservancy