Campi Ya Kanzi was the next stop on our journey through Kenya. The conservancy is located in the Chyulu Hills with unobstructed views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Ernest Hemingway was inspired to write “Green Hills of Africa” while visiting these hills and the encompassing ecosystem that covers nearly 4,000,000 acres of wilderness.
The main goal of this conservancy is community-based conservation through the protection of “wilderness, wildlife, and culture.” They believe that the strength and resiliency of the community is directly correlated with local environmental health and overall conservation of the Chyulu Hills within the Amboseli-Tsavo Ecosystem. Almost 90% of wildlife population of the Amboseli National Park lives in private Maasai land. Without the Maasai people, it is not possible to protect these multiple species and the ecosystems they depend on.
By implementing different programs, protected wilderness has the potential to generate substantial income for the Maasai people, which will in turn incentivize continued conservation.
The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
The owners of Campi Ya Kanzi founded the The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT). This trust serves to fund conservation efforts within the Maasai community by creating programs that benefit the locals and protect the environment. These programs focus on:
Education and Health Programs
The education and health of a community is an integral cog in the overall success of its people. In order to strengthen these two, the MWCT has:
- Employed 62 Teachers
- Built 26 Primary Schools
- Educated 9,000 students
- Provided buses to both high schools and university level schools
- Employed doctor and nurses
- Created five health facilities
- Built one clinic
By working with the community, MWCT has accomplished numerous conservation achievements including:
- A substantial decrease in poaching
- Increase in lion pride protection
- Implementation of holistic grazing management
- New grass banks for the community
Big game hunting is outlawed in Kenya, but that has not stopped illegal poaching from slowing down. The only way to stop this hunting is to employ local rangers to overlook designated populations of animals and develop monitoring practices. So far MWCT has:
- Employed 135 rangers from Kuku Group Ranch
- Decreased poaching by 50% in the area
- Arrested 6 people in 2018
- Successfully used and implemented the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)
Until recently, it was tradition that all Masai warriors kill a lion in order to become a man. MWCT has created a program that replaces this tradition with one that echoes the same level of respect and pride upon the warriors. Instead of killing these lions, the warriors now protect them. MWCT has:
- Employed 15 “Simba Scouts”
- Collared six lions
- Created a successful lion pride tracking system
One of the main reasons predators are killed by the local people is due to loss of livestock. MWCT started the “Wildlife Pays” program that compensates locals for loss of livestock with funds generated by tourism at Campi Ya Kanzi. $116 a night from a stay at the conservancy goes towards the program. By compensating locals for these missing livestock, improving the bomas, and not rewarding negligent herding practices, MWCT has incentivized predator protection.
It is important that local rangelands and the existing ecosystem co-exist. To ensure sustainable agriculture, MWCT has:
- Initiated a grazing and rangeland restoration management plan
- Implemented a monitoring system that guides all management decisions
- Created training workshops for locals
- Started grass banks and seed production
REDD + Carbon Project
In addition to the “Wildlife Pays” program, MWCT has implemented other streams of funding through the REDD + Carbon Project.
The REDD + Carbon Project looks to prevent deforestation by adding monetary value to the expansive forest of the Chyulu Hills through carbon credits. These hills were created by volcanic activity, which has made the soil vitamin-rich for healthy forests.
Although this program is an international effort, locally the program is connecting the Tsavo Ecosystem to the Amboseli Ecosystem and protecting a very valuable migration corridor for elephants. One of the biggest purchasers thus far was a partnership with Tiffany and Co.
Although the United States has made strives in conservation, currently, there are not many examples of community-based conservation. The programs enacted by the MWCT are just an example of what we can learn from conservation efforts across the globe.
This is Part 3 of an ongoing series. Check out Part 1: International Conservation Series: What are National Parks Doing? to learn more about international conservation on public lands, and Part 2: International Conservation Series: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to hear how this organization helps local economies while protecting endangered species.