The Great Maasai Mara is world famous for its amazing wildlife. Its conservancies and local communities have an even greater story to tell. The livelihood of the Maasai communities and the preservation of wildlife are directly linked. Service learning opportunities here include working alongside our partners in a dynamic landscape in which great gains are being made for community-based conservation, but large challenges and threats also loom. Namely, three main areas have been identified by Maasai communities as their priorities: Income Generation; Education and Outreach; Infrastructure and Water. The aim is to support conservation through the sustainable development of communities in the Maasai Mara, and increase the benefits local communities receive from conserving the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Timeframe for Involvement
1 to 8 weeks (or longer)
As this service learning project is based at Kenya Guiding School, service involvement includes assistance with wildlife research, workshops at a school that trains local Maasai guides and participation in wildlife clubs in local primary schools. Additionally, students will engage with the Maasai school for gifted girls in an area where gender inequality is a major issue, explore Maasai beading projects, and support Maa Trusts’ varied community development initiatives, all closely linked with conservation.
Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a 50,000 acre area set up in 2010 by over 500 landowners on the Northern border of Maasai Mara National Reserve. Naboisho’s open plains, Acacia-Commiphora woodland, rocky outcrops and varied riverine vegetation provide habitat for around 400 bird species and over 60 mammal species. This area plays host to some of the highest wildlife densities in Africa, and with its rotational cattle grazing plan for the surrounding Maasai community, it is an ideal location to study human influence on a savanna ecosystem, ecology in general, and challenges to conservation in East Africa.
- Learn how to collect and analyze field-based data
- Gain an understanding of community-based wildlife conservation
- View and learn about some of the most abundant wildlife on earth up-close
- Engage with local Maasai people and be exposed to their culture, food, faith and history
Accommodation will be provided in partnership with the Koyiaki Guiding School, a community initiative to train young Maasai women and men as field guides in order to encourage employment in the wildlife tourism industry. The guiding school is an ideal base, with adequate accommodation, hot showers, toilets, an outdoor dining area and access to classrooms, internet and electricity.
Kiambethu Tea Farm
Touring the Kiambethu Tea Farm gives insight into the colonial history and economics of Kenya, as well as the process undergone to transform the leaves of a tea bush into one of the most well known beverages of all time. The tour includes a walk through indigenous forests rich with medicinal trees, as well as a delicious colonial luncheon on the lawn.
River Rafting Rapids Camp
River Tana is the perfect place for white river rafting, with rapids ranging from grades three to five. It is also the only place in for white river rafting in Kenya. Upstream and downstream currents, including waterfalls, provide different technicalities that challenge beginners as well as more experienced rafters. Rafting River Tana is a worthy adrenaline rush!
Big Cat Monitoring
Incredible wildlife is one of Africa’s most appealing icons, and is desperately in need of protection through conservation and educational projects. Many conservation efforts give rise to amazing volunteering programs, such as the opportunity to research and monitor big cats. Taking part in this project gives students a chance to deeply experience and engage with some of Africa’s most powerful and breathtaking wildlife.
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens is a vibrant gateway into the world of pre-colonial climate diversity. Rising out of misty, rolling hills of emerald-green tea, these gardens stand as a testament to the power of environmental restoration and protection. The project began in the year 2000 and includes an arboretum of rare tree species that are critically endangered across the continent.