Mara Elephant Project

amat De-Fencing by Wilson Sairowua

Posted October 11, 2019 by Claire Bolles

Over 1,000 acres of fenced land in Narok County will be opened up to wildlife thanks to the hard work of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA). MMWCA reports that 15 landowners residing near Pardamat Conservancy entered into an agreement with MMWCA to take down their fences and allow the 15 parcels of land to be opened to wildlife. This agreement between landowners and MMWCA to open up this area to wildlife will hopefully set an example for others to do the same.

Members of the community gathered their fence posts and brought them to the ceremony to show their commitment to the cause.

The amount of fenced in land in the Mara is on the rise with Maasai communities seeing the benefit for keeping livestock and crops safe from wildlife. Unfortunately, the fences not only harm smaller animals like zebra or wildebeest, but also cut off key corridors for elephants. They also are not very effective at keeping large animals like elephants out.

The ceremony that took place on August 30.

On August 30, a ceremony took place to celebrate the first 500 acres that were de-fenced. In attendance were landowners, MMWCA staff and myself, not only representing Mara Elephant Project as the tracking manager, but also as a landowner in Pardamat.

“From my view as a landowner in Pardamat Conservancy we wanted to have good grass for our animals and that’s why we decided to erect fences, but it’s turning different because these animals are still breaking fences and getting in and many animals are dying in the process. This is worse than poaching because we are blocking animal corridors and we are losing wildebeest and giraffes everyday killed by electric fences. We needed a better solution and today we’re celebrating that.”

Wilson Sairowua

Here I am helping to collect wire and posts from deconstructed fences.

This is a wonderful first example of how the community can get involved in the protection of wildlife.

Comment from Calvin Cottar:

So, is it worth the years of effort convincing people not to fence their land , to take fences off their land to keep it open for wildlife?

Yes definitely; for the landowner, the nation and the tourism industry.

Do we as MMWCA have enough support to achieve the 3 times expansion necessary (from 2000 sq km to 6000 sq km) to secure the currently existing wildlife population of the mara ecosystem? No we dont. Of the 250 or so tourism facilities, only 39 are putting their money where their conservation mouth is and leasing land for conservancy. The land leased by these 39 is larger than the mara reserve reserve itself…and 130,000 people are pulled out of poverty in the process! The list of contributing tourism facilities can be found on MMWCA website http://www.maraconservancies.org. Please support them however you can, and especially if you are a travel agent or DMC.

The tourism facilities that are not securing land through lease or easements (especially the ones inside and on the edges of the MMNR ) are fundamentally extractive and anti conservation because they are using the national asset that is already secured against land use change by law – the government is obliged to secure state parks and reserves whether there are tourists therein or not. This is usually achieved through taxation of the urban middle and upper classes and simple enforcement management. Tourism has nothing to do with the success or failure of these efforts.

Another aspect of this is that the tourist /buyer is becoming more and more aware of the difference between extractive tourism and sustainable tourism, and why wouldn’t you want to be on the right side of history on this issue? get more involved, join the MMWCA and help us secure more land! It will do your marketing efforts and green credentials a world of good !

Likewise, wildlife conservation NGO’s need to step in more, and to understand there is no possibility of conservation success anywhere in Africa doing anything but securing land. If you are too vested in alternative strategies ( bee fences, lion lights, alternative livelihoods rural investment including infrastructure, education, medicine , anti poaching and policing, do these as part of a bigger strategy that includes securing land..do them concurrently.

All are welcome to come look at the conservation model being created in the Mara ecosystem for emulation elsewhere, or of course join in with us to help us secure up to 5000 sq km….karibu sana!

Contact MMWCA on http://www.maraconservancies.org