The joy of Private Conservancy Safaris

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It can be confusing trying to work out where you should go on safari and how you should travel – there are so many fantastic options. Here we look at the joy of private conservancies and how they differ from national parks and reserves.

Mara DSC_6446Private Conservancies vs National Park

Private conservancies are privately owned and run conservancies or reserves which tend to be located just outside the main national park or reserve. To maintain migration corridors national parks like Kruger in South Africa or the Masai Mara in Kenya, are unfenced wilderness areas allowing for the free movement of wildlife.

National parks are managed by local councils and government bodies who are responsible for monitoring wildlife, anti-poaching, security and maintaining roads and facilities. Lodges are usually quite large to accommodate demand and visitor numbers are not usually limited. In peak seasons there can be a high density of vehicles. There are strict rules in the national parks – drivers must keep to designated trails and safaris can only be enjoyed between sunrise and sunset.

Private conservancies in contrast,  work in partnership with the local community landowners. Because they are owned and managed privately, visitor numbers are strictly controlled. In Mara North in the Masai Mara for instance there is one guest on average to every 350 acres.  Camps and lodges tend to be small so guests see very few other vehicles compared to the national park.

There are significant benefits of the private conservancy model for both the visitor and the local community:

  • Environment Private conservancies protect important ecosystems, for example the Greater Mara Eco-System in Kenya and the Okavango in Botswana. They help to stop the degradation of these eco-systems, conserving wildlife and bio-diversity and allowing the habitat to recover.
  • Community Local people are able to earn an income from eco tourism and wildlife conservation. In Kenya, Maasai landowners are able to benefit directly from working in partnership with camps and lodges, being paid a ‘bed night’ fee for eWalking SC_9835WWDSC_5360very guest staying.  In South Africa’s Greater Kruger the conservancies operate in the same way – collaborating with the local communities.
  • Eco-tourism Private conservancies champion low density responsible travel. In a nutshell this is the best way to safari without the crowds.

Serian Lion Cubs DSC_6888The exclusive private conservancy safari experience

Private conservancies are often accessed by light aircraft flight, served by their own airstrip. Flying-in helps to maximise your holiday time and gives you a wonderful bird’s eye view in the process.

Guests can enjoy a wide range of activities. These include 4×4 safari, night drives, walking, bush dining and sundowners on the plains. You don’t have to be back in camp by sundown so you can enjoy the conservancy to the full – stopping for a gin and tonic at sunset or heading out on a night drive with flashlights after supper.

Private conservancies offer a quality, low density experience.  Instead of large lodges you can stay in small tented camps/lodges. You’ll see fewer vehicles and enjoy better quality game viewing.

You can get closer to the action. It’s good safari etiquette for guides to stick to trails to prevent grass erosion, however in private conservancies should you come across something exciting, like these gorgeous lion cubs,  you can go off road to observe more closely – something you are prohibited to do in a national park.

You can safari in the knowledge that your stay know that your stay will be benefiting the local community and contributing to wildlife conservation.

Mara DSC_6556Focus on Mara North, Kenya

The Mara North Conservancy offers 64,000 acres of prime wilderness situated immediately to the north-east of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, and works in partnership with local Maasai landowners. In MNC, there are eleven member camps. Each is represented by a land management committee. The committee meets monthly with the Maasai Landowners Committee representing over 800 Maasai landowners, who have opted to lease their land for conservation. The MNC is one of the largest community and private sector owned conservancies in the world and this is the first time many Maasai have been able to receive a direct income from wildlife.

Crucially, all the camps in the private conservancies promote low density tourism. This ensures an exclusive safari experience and minimal impact to the environment and its wildlife. This is the same across Eastern and Southern Africa.

Take your pick from Olare Motorogi and Mara North to name just two of many fantastic conservancies in the Masai Mara, Chyulu Hills on the edge of Tsavo and Amboseli or undiscovered Kalama or Sera north of Samburu. Kenya has many wonderful conservancies to choose from.

Explore Kenya safaris

Tanzania also offers wonderful private conservancies including five star Singita. Further south you can enjoy legendary Selinda or Linyanti in Botswana’s Okavango among many other excellent choices, Linkwasha in Zimbabwe’s Hwange, Ongava in Namibia, or Sabi Sands and Timbavati in South Africa’s Kruger. Private conservancies offer guests the chance to get off the beaten track, for example Tswalu Kalahari also in South Africa, or Namunyak in the Mathews Range of northern Kenya.

 

 

 

Meet Arruba

The Real Africa Trust continues to donate money directly to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a pioneering conservation organisation working to protect wildlife and habitats across East Africa.  

The DSWT runs the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme in the world. The nursery unit, pictured above, is based in Nairobi National Park, Kenya and it was here that I first met Kithaka, the elephant Real Africa adopted back in November 2013. Kithaka continues to thrive and will soon be moving from the Nairobi National Park nursery unit to Ithumba, ready to be rehabilitated back to the wild. When we first met Kithaka he was so small and vulnerable that it is hard to believe he is about to move to the Ithumba unit, as a strong young bull elephant, and this is all testament to the work of the Sheldrick Trust. We eagerly await his progress. In the knowledge that Kithaka is about to move on to the next stage, we felt the time was right to adopt another elephant – a calf just starting their journey in the nursery unit. So, in the New Year we adopted Arruba.You can read Arruba’s story below.

In recent months, with poaching escalating once again in East Africa, the Sheldrick Trust has been called on to rescue many tiny distressed elephants. Without their help, these calves would have perished. We recently heard of a tiny newborn calf, Ndotto, who was rescued at just 2 days old from the Ndoto Mountains in Kenya’s far north. Ndotto was found very confused in a throng of sheep and goats.  Ndotto is now being looked after in the nursery. You can see three pictures of the rescue mission to the left. Even on New Year’s day the team were in action attempting to help an emaciated calf found trapped in a gulley in Laikipia – sadly help came too late and on this occasion, the calf did not survive for more than a few days. However the Sheldrick Trust successfully rescued three babies in January.  A tiny calf was rescued from the Sera Conservancy, Northern Kenya on January 3rd. Hamsini struggled with a terrible septic wound on his back caused from a torrid time while being trapped in a well. He also suffered terrible bruising from the fall, and a lung infection. It has been a tricky month for Hamsini but we are hopeful with the right care that he will start to put on weight and his condition improve ; another calf of around 15 months, name Boromoko (pictured bottom right) was rescued from the plains of the Masai Mara on January 5th and has settled in the nursery well, being exceedingly loving; and then, on the 26th, yet another orphan was rescued close to Narok, a heavily populated area.  Her name is Siangiki which means young girl in Masai.  She came in a collapsed state but thankfully the Trust has managed to retrieve her from the brink and she is now safely out with the others and beautifully settled. Often it is not clear how the calves came to be separated from their mothers.

 Arruba’s story

On Tuesday 28th May 2013 a young female elephant calf was sighted by the Kenyan Wildlife Service maintenance team who were erecting a new electric fence in the Aruba Dam area of Tsavo East National Park. The elephant calf was reported to be desperate, and quite evidently alone. Due to the new fence, the baby was trapped and confused.

The period the calf had been trapped within the fenced area was unknown, as is the fate of the calf’s mother and the rest of its herd. It is suspected that the calf and it’s mother might have strayed into the new fenced area and the mother somehow lost the calf on exiting the enclosure and was unable to find her way back in to retrieve her baby. Another possibility is that the calf is an ivory-orphan, as eight elephants were brutally poached in nearby Ndara.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Voi Stockades in Tsavo East were alerted. The head Keeper of the Voi Stockades contacted the DSWT Nairobi HQ that afternoon to make the arrangements for a rescue plane from Nairobi to come the following morning, as darkness was already setting in.

So the new calf, who was estimated to be approximately 8 months old, put up a huge fight when the Voi Keepers arrived at the scene, with Arruba escaping their attempts at rescuing her and reacting extremely aggressively to their presence. Yet the Keepers eventually succeeded in capturing her and loaded her into the waiting vehicle to be transported back to the Voi Stockades.
On arrival at the Voi Stockades, the calf began to settle down and thankfully drank, having arrived in a very dehydrated state. There had been no access to water within the fenced area where she was found. Apart from a few bruises and minor abrasions the calf was in good condition.

The presence of the other orphans at the Voi Stockades was a huge comfort to the new arrival who desperately needed love and reassurance. Shimba, who is recovering remarkably from lion attack injuries, was a great help in getting the calf settled down, stretching his trunk through the stockade fence to offer affection and encouragement and reassurance.

In Nairobi on the morning of the 29th, the Nairobi team and plane were ready to depart on their mission having been briefed the previous evening. Three of the Nairobi Keepers set off to Nairobi’s domestic airport at 9am to catch the rescue plane to Voi in Tsavo East where the Voi Keepers were preparing the calf for her plane journey to Kenya’s capital city.

After a smooth flight with clear views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Chyulu Hills and the great expanse of Tsavo, the plane landed on Voi’s airstrip, which is located only a few kilometres from the Voi Stockades. On arrival at the stockades it was obvious that the orphan was going to be a handful to re-capture as she was still wild and fearful. Those who were still present to keep a careful eye on the new baby included some of Voi’s big ex-orphans including Emily, Lolokwe and Icholta.

The entire stockade’s workforce and the Nairobi Keepers were all needed to help to get the new arrival restrained and on the ground in order to brace her legs and keep her safe and secure during the flight. With all hands on deck the calf showed huge amounts of strength in managing to evade being taken down, yet after a few minutes she succumbed to the keepers, whilst ex-orphan Emily bellowed and stomped around the stockades concerned about what was happening to her.
The calf was quite a weight and again all hands were needed to lift her into the waiting vehicle and to get her to the airstrip. The transfer went smoothly and within half an hour the calf was being lifted into the plane, strapped securely inside with an IV drip administered to ensure she stayed hydrated during the flight, and a mild sedation to keep her calm.

Saying farewell to all of the Voi staff the Nairobi Keepers climbed into the plane alongside the calf, keeping her reassured and making sure she was as comfortable as possible during the journey. The orphan gave into exhaustion during the flight and fell into a peaceful sleep, awoken when the plane arrived back in Nairobi.

A DSWT vehicle was waiting at the airstrip and the calf was soon on her way to the DSWT Nairobi Nursery in Nairobi National Park. At 2.30pm she had finally reached her final destination and was carried into her stockade. After untying her, the Nairobi Keepers carefully lifted off the blanket covering her face, which was keeping her quiet and calm, and helped her up. Unsteady on her feet she stood, rather dazed, in the shade of her stockade eyeing the humans surrounding her warily yet being too tired to fight them off, she seemed to know she was in a safe place with caring people to look after her.
This calf was lucky to have been found alive and well as the area in which she was sighted is a favourite place for the infamous Tsavo lions.

It took Arruba a good few days to calm down and feed on milk, and once she trusted the Keepers enough to follow them she was let out of the confines of her stockade to join the Nursery orphans. By this time she knew them as they had been brought to her stockade for every feed time in an effort to coax her into drinking the milk formula that she seemed so reluctant to take.

Once out with the others elephant communication worked its magic yet again, and it was as if she knew the ropes from the outset – even venturing to the public viewing between 11 -12 with the others, seemingly unperturbed, a far cry from the frightened calf that only a week before was brought to the safety of the Voi stockades.

You can find out more about the DSWT here.

Many clients travelling with Real Africa to Kenya elect to stopover in Karen, a leafy suburb of Nairobi, for a night to enable them to visit the DSWT nursery unit in person. If this is of interest then please do let us know. There are two viewings, a public 1 hour viewing at lunchtime daily, and a private visit daily at 5pm, for those wishing to adopt an elephant.

 

By Sara White

 

Nature in the balance

As part of the launch for the competition we are currently running with Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, one of our directors Robert wrote an article for the publication. “Nature in the balance” discusses the conflict between man and wildlife and tells of an innovative way in which private conservation projects are successfully making them live in harmony.

The competition runs until the end of November. To enter, either visit our competition page or come and see us at the Luxury Travel Show in London between the 5th-8th November. We’d love to see you and you can enter there as well. For free tickets, visit our Luxury Travel Show page.

To read the article click on the image below and it will open in a new window. Click it again and it will open in full screen. Otherwise, the text of the article is below.

Nature in the balance by Robert Ferguson

Africa’s national parks and reserves are vital for the survival of numerous species. The remorseless destruction of their habitats has made these
protected areas a last bastion. As the human population grows, more land is being taken over for cultivation and grazing, closing off migration corridors and dispersal areas, and isolating these parks and reserves. Wildlife increasingly finds its natural habitats and food sources destroyed. Conflict between human and beast inevitably ensues, livestock is predated upon and crops are damaged. Privatisation of much of the communal land that borders the national parks and reserves has only compounded the issue.

Now, a scheme in Kenya is aiming to implement profitable community conservation plans and prove that wildlife can flourish alongside people. The premise is simple – convince the local population that conservation will generate them more income than traditional farming would.

In the Mara North Conservancy (MNC) – 26,000 hectares of prime wilderness situated immediately to the northeast of the Maasai Mara National Reserve – the scheme has been embraced by the local Maasai landowners. In return for a guaranteed monthly rent, concessions have been offered to low-impact safari camps.

The MNC is one of the world’s largest community and private-sector-owned conservancies and this is the first time that many Maasai have been able to receive a direct income from wildlife. In addition, vocational training is sponsored by the conservancy and philanthropic travellers.

For example, following a visit to the conservancy, the OBEL project has provided US$1 million over three years, primarily for the provision of education. It’s building new classrooms, as well as providing IT training and a range of other initiatives.

The camps also provide a source of employment to members of the local communities who don’t own land. The Karen Blixen Tented Camp offers opportunities to train in the hospitality sector through its Cookery and Forestry Schools. Other camps provide health clinics and a midwife service, and the Aitong Water Project is improving accessibility to safe drinking water.

Grazing is the biggest source of potential conflict, but this is being managed effectively. Each community is allowed to graze a small portion of the land that it traditionally grazed, herds are bunched, tourists are encouraged to visit and should a herder be found grazing in the wrong area, he’s fined. Boundaries are set in consultation with the community and the rotation managed to ensure that grass banks are set aside, open zones aren’t grazed too intensively and grazed areas are allowed plenty of time to recover.

Swathes of land remain free of Maasai herds and are used by the camps to provide game drives. Crucially, the camps promote low-density tourism, with one camp visitor per 350 acres (141 hectares). This ensures an exclusive safari experience and minimal impact to the landscape and its wildlife.

Encouraging the game to live in proximity with the Maasai does lead to some conflict. Big cats can kill livestock, but a scheme has been implemented to offer compensation to affected Maasai.

Advice is also given on how to keep the livestock secure at night, when the herds of cattle, sheep and goats are fenced in bomas. Traditionally, these enclosures were made of wood and acacia thorn bushes, but the Boma Fortification Scheme has provided some 2,000 wire-mesh rolls to create effective mobile barriers.

A win for the landowners is also a win for wildlife. An estimated 40,000 wildebeest migrate through these conservancies, the remnants of the once larger Loita Wildebeest Migration, in addition to the two million animals that come up from the Serengeti in June and July each year. Between 3,000 and 4,000 elephants in the Mara use these areas heavily and the conservancies offer them protection, open up parts of their migration corridors and facilitate research on their numbers, movements and dispersal.

The MNC is one of four conservancies managed by Seiya, a Nairobi-based family business that began by managing the ‘Mara Triangle’, a third of the main reserve, 14 years ago. It now also manages the Naboisho, Mara North and Ol Choro conservancies. Justin Heath oversees the day-today management of the three conservancies outside the reserve, including the MNC. ‘My dad has run the Mara Triangle for 12–13 years; I’ve been involved for four years,’ he says. ‘After doing my degree at University of Edinburgh, I went to work in the USA and South America, but I wanted to come home after my first daughter was born.’

Justin exemplifies the new generation of conservationists who understand that you have to work with the communities, rather than keeping the land solely for wildlife. ‘The conservancies provide hope for one of the world’s great ecosystems,’ he says. ‘In the past seven years, 80,000 hectares have been privately protected outside the reserve, with more than 2,000 landowners choosing to use their land for conservation. These conservancies are a great buffer to the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the northern Serengeti.’

Another four conservancies under private management are being established. Kenya’s new Wildlife Bill recognises conservation as a form of land use, and the Maasai Mara conservancies have joined to form an association that can effectively lobby government; 21 of their 23 recommendations were incorporated into the new bill.

If managed correctly, private conservation schemes will improve the lives of the local people, and give wildlife the chance to thrive in areas in which it would previously have been hunted or driven away from. Ultimately, this is a chance to preserve the iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve, home to the Great Migration.

By Robert Ferguson

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Have you ever heard of a Peace Park? There are several in Africa but the biggest and most established is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Southern Africa. This incredibly vast conservation area  stretches across three frontiers between Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa and is home to millions of animals.

This park was set up as a peace park to join  three countries together in an effort to protect the wildlife that roams across their national boundaries and as such it is one of the most successful conservation projects on the whole of the African continent. The park actually incorporates three seperate national parks; the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and some of the areas in between.

Conservation Area:

At the moment it is in the first stage and currently it covers around 35,000 kms sq. The aim is to bring together some of the most exciting and well established wildlife areas in Southern Africa and  manage it as one single, integrated unit across three international boundaries, a tricky proposition! The next phase will to be to create a bigger transfrontier conservation area measuring almost 100,000 kms sq.  The larger transfrontier conservation area will include Banhine and Zinave national parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe also bordering on the park.

Administration:

The adminstration and development of the park needs the various countries to agree unified policies and to co-operate over things such as fees and rates, border crossings, tourism strategy, conservation strategy, future funding and future development. This can only be done by running the park under a single management organisation and this has been done since 2002 when the park was finally created after years of planning.

History:

The park was originally discussed as an idea in a meeting between President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and the president of the World Wide Fund For Nature (South Africa) in 1990.  The 1992 Peace Accord in Mozambique and the South African democratic elections of 1994 paved the way for the political processes to proceed toward making this idea a reality. Feasibility studies initiated by the World Bank culminated in a pilot project that was launched with Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding in 1996.  Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique signed a trilateral agreement in Skukuza, South Africa on 10 November 2000. The Skukuza agreement signalled the three nations’ intent to establish and develop a transfrontier park and surrounding conservation area that, at that time, was called Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou. Finally, on 9 December 2002, the heads of state of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty at Xai-Xai, Mozambique to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Below is one of the first concept maps drawn up for the park in 1993.

Wildlife:

The park is important for several different reasons. It is vitally important to preserve some of the cultural sites such as the ancient cave paintings and the evidence of early man within the park.  The landscape and vegetation area are also vitally important to preserve. Of course one of the most important aspects is the conservation of the rare wildlife that lives in this area. In the GLTP there is a significant and viable populations of wild dog, white rhino and black rhino all of which are significantly endangered. Both these species are increasing steadily and increased range opportunities into Mozambique and Zimbabwe will enhance the conservation of these species and others. There are also significant populations of elephant, zebra, lion and spotted hyaena to be found in the park. As the park grows it will encompass and protect more endangered species and preserve more areas of environmental or cultural importance. It will also offer protected migration routes as most animals travel huge distances in search of either grazing or prey.

This is one of Africa’s great success stories. The park has taken a huge amount of time and effort whilst managing to overcome many hurdles on the way but it is now   a great success with plans to continue its expansion and development.

 

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife and man. Learning to live together in Africa

Robert, one of our directors, has had an article published in this months edition of Geographical magazine focusing on the increasing role private conservation initiatives are playing in the battle to protect and save Africa’s  wildlife.

Its been published to help raise awareness of these schemes, many of which depend on the revenues generated by tourism to fund them and allow the lands in question to become a safe habitat for the wildlife. Real Africa and Geographical, the official publication of the Royal Geographical Society, are running a competition with the prize being a visit to one such conservation area in the Masai Mara. To enter, look at our competition page.

This is an edited version of the article.

The age-old conservation dilemma. How do you balance the needs of the wildlife with the needs of man? As the human population grows so does its requirement for food. This means more land is taken for cultivation and grazing, which in turn reduces the natural habitats of the wildlife. They find their territories reduced and the staple plants in their diet destroyed and leads to conflict as crops are damaged and livestock eaten.

It is for this reason that the National Parks and Reserves in Africa are seen as vital for the survival of many species of animal. The remorseless destruction of their habitats has made them a last bastion, the final place they can live their natural lives unmolested.

Now a scheme in Kenya is showing that wildlife can make a comeback so long as the relationship between it and the human inhabitants is carefully managed to the benefit of both. The premise is simple. Convince the local population that the wildlife can generate them more income than traditional farming. Even better is to show them that they can live alongside the wildlife and benefit from the income it generates, without it affecting their traditional lifestyle.

How is this done? A successful example is the Mara North Conservation area, 64,000 acres situated immediately to the north-east of the Masai Mara reserve. The villages and communities living in this area wanted to benefit from the tourism attracted by the wildlife in the reserve, without compromising their lifestyle.

This was achieved by offering concessions to a limited number of low-impact safari camps. A committee was set up, each camp represented, who manage the lands as one. They work in partnership with a Masai Landowners Committee, acting in the interests of all landowners within the Conservation area. These landowners meet up at bi annual meetings.

The key component is the grazing as this is the biggest source of potential conflict and it is managed in a simple but effective way. At any one time, one third of the land is for the Masai to live in, one third is for the domestic animals to graze and one third is left exclusively for the wildlife. Should a herdsman be found grazing in the wrong area, he is fined.

There are no fences, the wildlife is free to roam freely throughout the entire conservation area, but there are always zones that are free of Masai herds that can be used by the camps to provide game-drives to their clients. These zones are managed so that during the peak tourist season they offer the best possible and most diverse viewing in areas that are the most convenient for the camps, reducing the driving times of the safari vehicles and therefore the disturbance to the wildlife.

The camps have discovered another benefit of the grazing programme. During the rains – April to June and November – when the grass grows tall, the wildlife tend to congregate in the grazed areas as they can see much further and get more warning if a predators is on the prowl.

Encouraging the game to live in proximity with the Masai and their herds does of course lead to conflict. The big cats will kill the domestic livestock if the opportunity arises, and to prevent this becoming an issue, a compensation scheme is run to ensure the owner of any slaughtered animals are not financially out of pocket.

Mobile Boma, used to keep the herds same when away from villages.

 

Advice is given on how to keep the livestock secure, especially at night when the herds of cattle, sheep and goats are fenced in boma, or small enclosures. Traditionally these were made of wood and thick thorn bushes. Now wire-mesh panels are provided to create boma that will keep hungry hyenas, leopard and lions at bay. Mobile enclosures are also provided for keeping stock secure when they are grazing areas too far from their homesteads to return to every night.

In exchange for granting the camps the right to operate on their lands the Masai settlements receive a rent. Depending on the area and the management, this is either a percentage of the turnover of the camp, or a fixed rental payment. This money is administered by the management committee and a certain percentage of it used for communal projects that benefit the entire population.

An example is the OBEL project, aimed primarily on the provision of education to the communities involved. This ranges from the building of new classrooms and facilities at the local schools, to providing IT training to older students. The budget for this project, funded by the conservation area, is US$ 1 million, spread over three years. Other camps provide medical clinics and a midwife unit, as well as water supplies.

Money from the rental payments is also used to provide protection for the game. At a time when poaching, driven by the market for ivory in the Far East, is increasing, the conservation areas employ Armed rangers and guards to protect the wild animals by patrolling and liaising with the Masai herdsmen.

The Masai landowners who allow their land to be used within the scheme receive the remainder of the rent. This initially created the problem of them using the money to purchase more cattle, the traditional indicator of wealth within their community. This put more pressure on the grazing within the scheme. In the last year, however, they have started investing their money elsewhere, recognising this conflict and not wanting to risk the success of the tourism.

 

Cattle is the traditional way for Masai to show wealth, leading to conflict with wildlife.

 

The camps also provide an important source of employment to the members of the local communities who do not own land.  This allows them to earn a cash wage to bring back into their communities and spend in the local shops. There are opportunities to train in specific hospitality sector skills, such as the Cookery and Forestry schools run by the Karen Blixen Camp.

The Mara North Conservancy is one of three managed by Seiya Ltd, a private company based in Nairobi. If you combine the areas of these, plus other conservation areas in the region, more land is now privately managed  that in the whole official Mara Reserve. Their success is such that Seiya also manages the “Mara Triangle”, part of the main reserve itself as part of a not-for-profit organization under the control of the district council.

Maintaining roads lets tourists in and gives the Masai access to new markets.

 

One of Seiya’s managers is Justin Heath, who looks after the Naboisho Conservancy as well as advising on grazing in other areas. He is a good example of the new generation of conservationists who understand you have to work with the local communities, rather than trying to preserve the land  just for the wildlife.

If managed correctly, it will improve the lives of both the local people and of the whole ecosystem, allowing the wildlife to thrive in areas they would previously been hunted or driven away, while the communities are given access to the benefits of tourism they were previously excluded from.

By Robert Ferguson

A ray of hope for the animals of Africa?