A New Way Forward for the Maasai Mara

2015_09_10-On the Deck-Newsletter

The Maasai Mara is Kenya’s signature tourism destination, yet it is often criticized for receiving too many visitors, its sprawling trading centres with rising numbers of people and livestock, and the huge amount of unregulated camps and lodges.

In response to these concerns, a new collaborative partnership is developing. Driven by the umbrella regional organization, Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), the collaboration will forge a new way forward, promoting a tourism experience in the conservancies worthy of the global brand of the Maasai
Mara.

Representatives of Mara conservancies planning for new Maasai Mara strategies (photo by Daniel Hernandez Salazar)

Last week, in the middle of the Mara, representatives from the Mara conservancies joined with other key parties like private Maasai landowners, the Mara tourism sector, Maasai Mara University, international conservation NGOs, Kenya Wildlife Service, and Narok County Government to develop a vision and road map to tackle some of the major issues facing Kenya’s crown jewel.

The forum, organized by MMWCA in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, identified both challenges and potential solutions to the issues faced by the Maasai Mara region. Everything was considered from the rising population of people, to the quality of the grasslands for grazing, and the decline of the Mara-Loita wildebeest migration, which scientific research has shown to have been reduced by 82%.

We’re proud to say that ACTS Africa Director, Sean Anderson, has joined the forum in his role as Chairman of Naboisho Conservancy. Established in 2010, the Naboisho Conservancy protects 51,000 acres of land and benefits 554 Maasai landowners.

Strategic planning (photo by Daniel Hernandez Salazar)

Sean believes that the forum is incredibly important in terms of developing a framework for a Conservation Plan. He explains, “Since the beginning of Naboisho, I’ve been involved as a tourism partner. 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”.

We are excited to follow the MMWCA’s progress in the Maasai Mara!

Do you think this forum will be of benefit to tourism and conservation in the Maasai Mara? Let us know your thought in the comments below.

Photographs credited to Daniel Hernandez Salazar

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