Wildlife conservation in kenya

CNC reporting from Nairobi
Added On May 10, 2013

The Masai Mara is a land of vast savannahs. It's the home to the African "Big Five" including Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos and Rhinos. It's also the home to the Masaai people. Recently, human-conflict has been a major issue in Masai Mara region.

The living pressure are getting greater as large cattle-raising areas are narrowing. Meanwhile conservation and tourism industry benefit is not enough for the local communities.

How to solve the problem?  Lifestyles has the answer.

"With the very increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict here in Masai Mara in Kenya's Rift valley,this has rendered many animals especially the wildlife to be endangered species in this area. But through the interventions of community, especially the conservancies, you can see behind me as well as scouting policies in this community. This practice will be the thing of the past."

Wildlife resources and ecosystems are facing a contradiction situation in the key areas of this regions. While the formation of conservancies in Kenya brings some new setting methods and hope to local people.

The Naboisho conservancy in Masai Mara, Kenya is a good example. Naboisho, which in Maasai means "coming together", is a community driven initiative to create a wildlife conservation and boost tourism area that supports the livelihoods of the landowners and its surrounding communities.

Justin Heath is the manager of the conservancy. He says it's a great idea.

"I manage a 50,000 acre piece of community land. We have 515 Masai landlords who have come together and chosen conservation as the best land use over agriculture ,over settlement."

Established in March 2010,the land includes contributions from the Masai landowners and conservancy fees are gave directly to these landowners, providing them with a sustainable resources.

With four year long process, a conservancy model has been formed. The community is now truly a partner and beneficiary of the income, which will be both generated through conservation and eco-tourism.

"This is really exciting. Because 10 years ago, conservation was on the government level today we have conservation at the grassroots level. We have 515 Masai landlords whom we work on a weekly basis. That's very exciting. In Kenya, land pressure is huge if we don't engage community we cant conserve the land."

"Base camp Explorer Kenya" is one of five tourist partners in the conservancy. Dackson Sasine is the community Projects Officer with Base camp foundation. He says considering Nabosisho conservancy lies on the northern corridor of the Masai mara national reserve, its conservation impacts the migration of the wildlife, especially the wildebeest migration.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DACKSON SASINE, Community conservationist
"Base camp foundation mobilizes the local community to put together their land and set aside for conservation purposes and this land is benefiting the community directly. The communities are getting benefits directly in terms of land lease fees in that regard the community starts embracing wildlife conservation."

Initial research indicates that Mara Naboisho Conservancy has one of the highest densities of lions in Africa. The conservancy also has the highest population of giraffe, impressive numbers of elephant and other plains animals, in addition, it also has some of the rarest animals in Kenya, such as the Wild Dog.

According to the conservationists,the conservancy idea of wildlife conservation played a big role in retaining and increasing numbers of wildlife in the area.

"Poaching we had a lot of bush meat poaching,we hardly see any bush meat poaching anymore. Ivory poaching you know this is huge a lot of elephants are being killed in Africa for Ivory. Last year the community reported 15 carcasses to us. we were able to recover the tusks and had them to Kenya wildlife services (KWS). This is 30 tusks which would have gone to black market and fulled illegal trade and community is engaged in finding us and telling us to come and collect them. That is a huge success."

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DACKSON SASINE, Community conservationist
"So through the benefits that the community gets through the conservancy, the members of this community now embrace wildlife conservation as not only importantly economically but also an important aspect in the ecosystem. So wildlife conservation in the community itself are becoming scouts of wildlife, so that they are protecting wildlife by themselves, so that because they take it second cow to milk from the normal livestock, they are having."

The members of the community has also helped and trained people in the area, of whom 70 percent are illiterate. Many members of the community especially women have been trained in various levels of schooling and many young men have been assigned the role of scouts in the conservancy.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DACKSON SASINE, Community conservationist
"In involving the community, we have trained more than 30 rangers within the conservancy and this people are local community members. Some of them have not been to school, so they don't have formal education. But they have been trained and in a position to protect wildlife and also human being against wildlife. Because we have conflicts between wildlife and human beings, we have cases where wildlife are attacking human beings and virse versa and the responsibility of this rangers is to ensure that they minimize the cases where wildlife is attacking the people, but also where people are interfering with the wildlife."

Alphonce Sayii is one of the trained head community scouts who has been tasked with the role of illegal grazing and promotion of tourism in the conservancy.

CNC World team joined him on one of his tours in the park to ensure the safety of both wildlife and local people.

"Yes of course we have seen a lot of warthogs the population is going high and the giraffe the population has gone high Thompson and grand gazelle all of them the population has gone high. So to me, I think the poaching has gone down."

Community elders in the area say the idea has ensured the Masai people to live peacefully amongst the bountiful wildlife.
"The idea of conservancy is well timed. Human-wildlife conflicts had been a major issue in recent history in the Masai Mara region, since pressure had increased for larger cattle-grazing areas. But now we both mutually benefit from the conservancy idea."

"Well this is only the beginning I think in time we will have an area bigger than the Masai Nara National reserve under community conservancies this model has really expanded 7-8 years ago there were none.Today right now there are 7 operational conservancies and there another at least 6 in the pipeline we are trying to form right now.So this is the concept that started 7 years ago its really grown and gained momentum with the government support with the buying of communities I think we going to going to add double of land we have under conservation."

Many stakeholders from all segments of society think that the renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve and many other reserves in Africa are a threatened to ecosystem. But with the establishment of conservancies,it will become a milestone in saving and sustaining the ecosystems.