Stimulating community conservation interest in the Mara

The last natural resources on earth are stewarded by indigenous communities. These people have been, from time imemorial, deriving their livelihoods through sustainable extraction of the natural resources. With changing economic times, climatic variations and global viligization, the communities find it hard to maintain the traditional lifestyles nor are they able to easily adapt to the changing times. One such community is the Maasai community in Kenya. Women are the most challenged given that the society orientates them to be least able to access and utilize resource.

 

A Maasai bead-making group leader with AKTF Director

A Maasai bead-making group leader with AKTF Director

AKTF have come up with strategies of making conservation relevant to local communities, influencing their lives positively while protecting the resources. One way ofdoing this is through enhancing the community to establish sustainable economic activities that do not encourage wasteful extraction of natural resources. Making bead products and marketing them has proved a sustainable enterprise that improved the living standards of many members of the community. More than twenty women and men from the Transmara and Narok counties, living within the larger mara ecosystem have been trained in making high quality bracelets. This has affected their lives in many positive ways. All the bracelets are sold by Anne Taylor either locally to visiting tourists or in the international market.

Beautiful people supporting their livelihoods through beading enterprise

Beautiful people supporting their livelihoods through beading enterprise

Recently, the group has received special orders to make “FEED” bracelets which are sold in the US.  FEED purchases the beautifl bracelets from the Maasais through AKTF and sells them in the US. All the proceeds from the FEED sales go towards supporting the hungry through the world food program (WFP). This wonderful initiative has multi-dimensional benefits including improving the lives of the pastoralists and reducing hunger in the food insecure areas.
Beautiful bracelets from Mara

Beautiful bracelets from Mara

Look for this type, buy one, support conservation, FEED a hungry child

Look for this type, buy one, support conservation, FEED a hungry child

New approach to biodiversity conservation

The conservation issues in and around our protected areas are getting more and more complex. In the Maasai Mara, the community members have been made aware of the importance and need for conserving their biodiversity. However, socio-economic (cultural) issues, among others, are still a major challenge to conservation interventions.
According to the traditional Maasai culture, aboy (moran) must kill a lion as part of rites of passage to manhood.  In recent times, the practice of morans killing wild animals has greatly reduced, but not completely. Over the past few weeks, there have been rumors of morans having killed a lion and a few confirmed cases of animals killed with poisoned arrows.

poisoned in the mara recently

poisoned in the mara recently

For sustainable conservation, we should maintain our efforts, especially to try and change the attitude of people.
 A sustainable project:
The AKTF have been working with communities in the Maasai Mara to establish and institute sustainable interventions to human wildlife conflicts. A participatory assessment of the cases was done involving the communities and the AKTF team. It was noted that most predation cases took place when livestock was in the stockades. To mitigate this,  the AKTF and the community members agreed to try wildlife proof bomas. A simple technique of fortifying the bomas with chain link fencing wire was suggested. Through the generous support from Anne K. Taylor, the director of the fund, communities received a few wires to try. The trials were very successful with all the bomas showing no predation incidences at all. 

A predator proof animal enclosure (Boma)

A predator proof animal enclosure (Boma)

The project grew bigger with subsequent phases. Most community members were willing to install the fortifying wires. The project received more support from National Geographic “Big Cats Initiative” to continue and expand the project. So far, more than 200 households in Transmara and Narok districts have received the support and put up wildlife proof animal stockades (bomas).  More than 900 rolls of 18M by 8ft wire have been given to the pastoralists in the area. This is not a complete donation like many donor funded projects. It is a partnership between the community and the AKTF. The communities contribute 50% of the wire costs, pay 100% of the construction costs and AKTF pays 50% of the wire costs and 100% transport costs to the Maasai mara.  This has been a successful project considering all the challenges of working with a rural Maasai community.

Now there is a huge demand for wire from the remaining community members. Some members have even decided to go it on their own in financing full costs. There has been a reduction of human wildlife cases and people have started appreciating wildlife even more.

Introducing the Anne Kent Taylor Fund

Dear Friends,

As a first post I thought I needed to tell you about who the Anne Kent Taylor Fund and our work in the Masai Mara. My  name is Anne and I live partly in the Masai Mara.

In 1998, I began to receive visits from a large, wild warthog that lived near her cottage in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. This warthog could usually be found lying in the sun or grazing on the lawn in front of my verandah. He sought out my company and encouraged me to scratch his ears, de-tick him and, as he rolled on his back like a puppy, rub his tummy!

As he had become a permanent fixture in my life in the Mara, he was named Sir Francis Bacon! One morning in 1999, Sir Francis Bacon came up to my house with an arrow embedded deeply in his side. I quickly organized for a Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarian to come and surgically remove the arrowhead. Sir Francis successfully recovered and years later he died a natural death. His offspring still visit me at my cottage on a regular basis – one young male has even larger tusks than those of Sir Francis! Trunk severed by a snare Trunk severed by a snare poaching poaching Because of what happened to Sir Francis, I feared an increase in poaching activity and began to informally patrol the region searching for other injured animals.

To my horror, my fears were justified when she found several elephant, lion and giraffe that had become badly entangled in life threatening wire snares. These were embedded deeply into the animals’ limbs, and the elephants’ trunks, causing unfathomable pain and damage. Remarkably, once the wire snares were removed and the wounds treated, the animals were able to make a full recovery. Giraffe snare being removed Giraffe snare being removed I started the Anne K. Taylor Fund (AKTF) which works with the authorities in the Masai Mara to help control bush meat poaching and conducts community education programs on the importance of saving wildlife. Support us in saving the Mara.

My team and I will be telling you more about our work and hoping you will join us on our adventures .

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