Olare Orok Conservancy

Project LocationNarok District, Maasai Mara, Kenya
Project TypeWildlife and habitat conservation, Community conservation initiatives, Environmental education
Endangered SpeciesRhino, Wild dog
Land Area Protected630 km2
Benefiting Locally15,600
Local People Employed4
Schools Supported4 schools, 1600 pupils

Olare Orok Conservancy

May 2006 was a landmark date for conservation in the Masai Mara. A deal was brokered with 27 Maasai land-owners which resulted in the formation of Olare Orok Conservancy, bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Olare Orok has become the template for Mara community wildlife conservancies and is set to become the blue-print for the sustainability of the greater Masai Mara eco-system.

Tourism in the Conservancy is limited to a maximum of 94 beds which equates to a ratio of one game viewing vehicle for every 2,100 acres. This formula maximizes the client wilderness experience and minimizes the environmental impact of tourism.

This area to the northwest of the Mara reserve offers one of the highest quality, lowest traffic safari experiences in the region and at its heart is the pioneering Olare Orok Conservancy. Built upon a partnership with local Maasai landowners, Olare Orok management has worked with the local people who agreed to move their homes and cattle, leaving the wildlife completely unimpeded. The removal of the cattle means that grazing within the Conservancy has improved greatly, often attracting much higher game concentrations.

Community Outreach Programme

The Masai communities have for many years been marginalised from the mainstream and require significant support to enable them to effectively integrate with the rest of the country. In addition there is increasing competition and conflict between pastoral livestock and wildlife which is placing huge pressure on the protection of this key world heritage site. Olare Orok Conservancy realises that it is critical for local communities to understand that conservation can provide a sustainable income and that people can live in harmony with wildlife. The Conservancy also maintains that better management of livestock, use of alternative energy and better health care will enable these communities to live in harmony with the environment. OOC strongly believes that the ultimate success of the conservancies is closely inter-linked with an increase in awareness and education of the communities living in and around these areas.

It’s now a year since the Community outreach programme started. The programme began with 5 primary schools and 8 women groups.  Through the Outreach Programme, the Olare Orok Conservancy Trust works with local women’s groups, focusing on women’s and children’s health education, HIV/Aids awareness, and family planning. An indicator of the programme’s success is that clinical officers in nearby dispensaries have reported a decline in the number of hospital visits by women and children.

Using a micro-finance model, the OOCT has also provided a group of women with bee hives as an income generating activity. As these women begin to earn money from honey production, they will repay their loan, thereby creating funding for the subsequent loans.

Tusk Support

With the help of Tusk Trust , the OOCT now support a number schools. For example, the Endonyo Reinka school was recently refurbished and students now enjoy two complete dormitories (housing a total of 200 children), a canteen, kitchen, solar lighting, and new furnishings.

In addition, Tusk has funded two computer containers to be used as a computer training centre. Each container will be solar powered and equipped with 6 computers. The containers will be constructed to be theft-proof and can be used for dedicated intensive IT training. They will also double-up for power-point presentations to various youth and women’s groups to create awareness on issues such as conservation, sustainable and alternative energy, health care including HIV/Aids, and home economics.

It is anticipated that over time the community program will become a self-sustainable education and awareness initiative that will eventually be funded entirely from conservation land revenues. OOCT also hopes that if the project is successful in Eastern Koiyaki it can be replicated in other pastoral communities around the country and elsewhere.

Notes from the field
Education will lead to an understanding of better land use and conservation as a critical component of the economic future for the Masai people. Educating people about land and cattle management, the ways in which the quality of livestock can be improved, as well as the practice of re-seeding indigenous grasses where degradation and over-grazing has taken place, will go a long way in improving yields and thus sustainable income in local communities.
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