Plans to preserve Kenya’s Maasai Mara
The Maasai Mara is the brightest jewel in Kenya’s tourism crown, but its gleaming reputation is often marred by too many visitors, overcrowded trading centres, and high numbers of unregulated camps and lodges. In order to better protect this natural heritage and improve the tourism experience, a new collaborative partnership is being driven by the new Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA).
In mid-September 2015, representatives from the Mara conservancies gathered together with other key players to identify challenges and develop a vision and road map to tackle the major issues facing the Maasai Mara region. The forum, organized by MMWCA in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, included private Maasai landowners, the Mara tourism sector, Maasai Mara University, international conservation NGOs, Kenya Wildlife Service, and Narok County Government
All issues were considered; including the rising population, quality of grazing lands, and the decline of the Mara-Loita wildebeest migration – which scientist say has reduced by 82%.
We were excited to see one of our own in this forum. Edu Africa Director, Sean Anderson, was invited to join the forum in his capacity as Chairman of Naboisho Conservancy. Established in 2010, the Naboisho Conservancy benefits 554 Maasai landowners and protects 51,000 acres of land.
Sean firmly believes that the forum is an important step in developing a Conservation Plan. He explains, “I’ve been absolutely blown away by the vision of the local community, bringing together investors and landowners as one team to create a business model that is cutting edge, providing quality eco- and community-based tourism. All the conservancies, communities, and tourist operators across the greater Mara face the same challenges. From a tourism perspective, if we are going to succeed in creating a world-class product for Kenya, that is regarded as a priority safari destination for tourists, then we have to have a plan bringing us all together on the same page and making us pull in the same direction. This week we will have created the basis for that plan”.