The Olare Orok and Motoroki Conservancies
The ConservancyMay 2006 was a landmark date for conservation in the Masai Mara with the formation of Olare Orok Conservancy bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve, when a deal was brokered with the 154 Maasai land-owners that has become the template for the Mara community wildlife conservancies and is set to become the blue-print for the sustainability of the greater Masai Mara eco-system.
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is a 370,000 acre area bordered by community lands to the north, west and east, and by Serengeti National Park to the south.
Olare Orok Conservancy is an intriguing new conservation concept on land-use. Prior to 2006 the Olare Orok and Motoroki Concervanies 35,000 acres of prime grasslands, riverine forests and Acacia woodlands were populated by rural homesteads and grazed in an uncontrolled manner by large herds of cattle, sheep and goats. The eco-system was over-grazed and sustainability of the habitat for both people and wildlife being destroyed. After many meetings with the local Maasai it was agreed that a new community conservation vision should be tried to address sustainability of their land and to add value in both income and conserving vegetation, so that a combination of wildlife tourism and sustainable rotational grazing would create a win-win situation for both the Maasai landowners and the wildlife of the Masai Mara eco-system.
Moving from a bed night system of payment to a monthly rental system from the safari camps on the land has given the Maasai landowners a reliable steady income.
The management of the Conservancy comprises a board consisting of representation from the Maasai landowners and tourism partners in conjunction with donors who were instrumental in supporting the Conservancy.
The management, together with facilitators and elders, brokered the removal of homesteads and the reduction in domestic livestock herd sizes within core conservation areas, in particular diurnal refuge areas for predators were left completely free of domestic livestock. As a result, the Conservancy has once again become a haven for big cats and part of the annual wildebeest migration route. The Conservancy now offers some of East Africas finest, year-round wildlife viewing. The area boasts the highest density of lions per square kilometre in Africa and over 50 different species of raptors have been identified within the Conservancies.
Tourism in the Conservancy is limited to a maximum of 94 beds in five mobile camps this equates to a ratio of one game viewing vehicle for every 2,100 acres, a move that is aimed at maximising the client wilderness experience and minimising the environmental impact of tourism.