The conservancy is a partnership between eleven member camps and over 800 Maasai landowners. The aim is to create a best practice, world-class conservancy with long-term commitments to the environment, wildlife, and local communities.
The Landowner Committee reports to all landowners for their final approval. Twice a year, full community meetings are held whereby all landowners are able to voice their opinion on the way forward.
MNC realizes that the economic development and prosperity of landowners and local communities is inextricably linked to the conservancy’s ultimate success.
MNC’s member camps have set up numerous projects, which highly benefit the local communities. They have established educational as well as health facilities with a focus on maternal and child disease, HIV/Aids, TB, malaria and waterborne diseases. Several member camps are also supporting women’s empowerment enterprises, including the development of new income-generating activities, such as handicraft projects.
MNC is currently in the process of setting up a Trust Fund and the necessary infrastructure to initiate new community programs. These are developed after wide consultations with community members and implemented in equal partnership with the Maasai Land Owner Committee, which represents the entire community. Community Projects are also designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, and to ensure that the communities living in and around the conservancy benefit directly and immediately from MNC’s presence. MNC has raised funds from a number of organizations and foundations, including Anne Kent Taylor, The African Conservation Centre and The Obel Family Foundation. In April 2011, MNC was awarded US$ 1M by the Obel Family Foundation to execute the Bright Green Project (focusing on children’s education, conservation awareness, IT literacy, wildlife research and a community waste management system) over a 3 year period.
Current Community Projects
At present MNC is establishing livestock and grazing management programs, with plans to improve market access for local herders.
MNC is currently developing educational facilities and programs that include environmental awareness, ecosystem health, as well as the training of teachers and will be providing tables, textbooks, and free IT courses for the youth. The program is called Bright Green and is founded by the Obel Family Foundation.
In the future, MNC will continue to increase fund-raising activities, as well as corporate investments, in order to develop additional community projects that support the empowerment of the local community – particularly the youth and women.
The Bright Green project also includes the development of a community-based waste management system.
Communities living in natural wildlife areas must be provided with the economic incentives to set aside their land for wildlife conservation. In the 1980s & 1990s, growing land fragmentation began to lead to the environmental degradation of the Maasai Mara ecosystem and exacerbated community impoverishment. Without a partnership between Maasai landowners and the private tourism sector it was difficult to ensure sustainable, well coordinated and effective wildlife protection along with recognizable benefits for all stakeholders. In 2008 the founding members of MNC decided to approach the local Maasai leaders to jointly find a sustainable long-term solution for the conservation of the area. After many consultations, held under the shade of acacia trees, 750 Maasai landowners decided to lease their land to the Mara North Conservancy, which was officially established on the 1st of January 2009. This new partnership established a truly innovative approach, whereby the MNC member camps guaranteed to pay fixed monthly lease payments to the Maasai landowners, regardless of tourism ebbs and flows, for the privilege of carrying out their game drives within this exclusive wildlife area.