Maasai Mara, Kenya

Name of Conservation Group

Wildlife Clubs of Kenya

Status of registration of the group at the national level

Nonprofit, nongovernmental organization

Governance and management structure of the group

The aim of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) is to build conservation knowledge, skills, values and interest among Kenya’s youth. The major activities WCK has undertaken in the last 3 years include: outreach conservation education; wildlife ecology outdoor learning; programs to save endangered wildlife, including restoring natural habitat; and the production of education materials.

WCK is led by the Patron, Dr. David Western, and two Trustees, Mr. Philemon Mwaisaka and Dr. Ibrahim Ali. Reporting to the Trustees is the Governing Council, which comprises representatives from various conservation organizations, ministries and government parastatals. The WCK Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Margaret Otieno, is in charge of WCK operations and reports to the Governing Council. Under the CEO are the heads of different departments, as well as WCK regional heads and field officers, who run various regional offices and programs together with the support staff. WCK has 46 employees in total.

Exact location, including geographic coordinates

The land is located near the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Its coordinates are: 1°27’55.54″S, 35°26’20.32″E

Short description of the area and the land to be purchased

The land is adjacent to the Mara Siana Conservancy, which is situated northeast of Maasai Mara National Reserve. The 4,500 km2 Maasai Mara ecosystem has the highest density of wildlife in Kenya, harbouring about 25% of the country’s wildlife. This piece of land is on plot number 8822 and is privately owned. It is in a pristine state.

The area holds an assortment of wildlife species, and elephants roam frequently between Siana, Isaaten, Olkinyei and Naboisho conservancies. This area is dominated by acacia species interspersed with grass and springs, making the area home for multiple species.

Acquisition of the land will create a migratory corridor and habitat for wildlife between the Mara Siana Conservancy and Koiyaki Group Ranch.

Main threats

A 2009 analysis of the land use changes and animal population dynamics in the Maasai Mara ecosystem already showed a 58% decline in the total nonmigratory wildlife population due to habitat loss; some species, like giraffes, topis, buffalos, and warthogs, decreased by 73%–88%.

If not acquired now, more precious land for wildlife will be lost due to the ongoing subdivision of the once communal land into individual parcels, where owners with title deeds can start any activity, including those that may be incompatible to wildlife survival. Moreover, land demarcation has triggered the construction of fences, blocking wildlife migratory areas, including between Mara Siana Conservancy and Koiyaki Group Ranch.

The ecosystem’s biodiversity is under intense pressure due to a growing Maasai population and their grazing herds. Population growth in this region is 4.7%, compared to Kenya’s national growth rate of 2.7%. In the local area, 77.5% of Siana households use firewood for cooking.

Some land has been cleared for settlement and other related activities, leading to a loss of biodiversity, as well as disturbing the migration of keystone species like elephants. From 1986 to 2007, the area under agriculture around the Maasai Mara Reserve increased from 1% to 12%.

Finally, the reduction of grass and water resources that are used by local people has led to an escalation of human-wildlife conflicts in areas around the Maasai Mara National Reserve and ecosystem as a whole. A new tarmac road in the nearby community of Nkoilale now opens the area to more human activities.

Estimated value of a single hectare

A hectare is US$9,880. An acre is US$4,000.

Conservation plan for the purchased land

Wildlife habitat: The land will largely be left open as a wildlife habitat and dispersal corridor. There shall be no fence erected around the land perimeter.

Wildlife Education: There has been a lack of comprehensive conservation education for schools and communities around the Maasai Mara ecosystem. WCK will use the land as a nature learning resource, and will conduct organised programs for schools and community groups, allowing them to visit the site and learn about wildlife ecology and nature interpretation.

Conservation structures: WCK will develop 3 environmentally friendly conservation facilities:
(i) Office: An office to house an WCK education officer and from which to conduct programs will be developed on a small section of the land. This will also enable WCK to conduct wildlife conservation training seminars for schools and community groups.
(ii) Hostels: WCK plans to develop student hostels on the land. The hostels are meant to offer affordable accommodation for student groups, especially school wildlife clubs, from other regions of Kenya, who are visiting the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
(iii) Tent facilities: WCK will provide tent facilities for controlled camping at the site.

The Wildlife Clubs of Kenya will work closely with an established local grassroots network of schools and community groups to ensure the land is prioritised as a conservation area. Accordingly, WCK will employ rangers from the local community to patrol and ensure the land is well protected. At the same time, WCK will partner with organizations in the Maasai Mara ecosystem to propel a similar conservation agenda.