This month I’m sharing a story from my WWF colleagues Nickson Orwa, Neema Suya and Hassan Mohammed who are accompanying some of our partners on an exchange visit to the Maasai Mara…
Learning by seeing is one of the best ways in which we learn and we’ve found this to be true time and time again through our work with the local community in Boni-Dodori. Classroom trainings are simply not effective, but practical training and awareness creation works wonders. And that’s precisely why we’re supporting representatives of the local community and other partners to visit work we are supporting in the Maasai Mara.
The Maasai Mara is the home to the seventh wonder of the world – the incredible wildebeest migration, which takes place every year between the Serengeti of Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The Maasai Mara is also home to all members of the ‘Big Five’ (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros) and the Maa (Maasai) community, a group with a very rich cultural history.
There are seventeen of us, mostly from two communities in Lamu County on the North East coast of Kenya, on this journey. And it’s been a long journey! The forests of Boni-Dodori are more than 600 kilometres from the Maasai Mara and for many in our group this trip is the furthest they have ever travelled from home. But once in the Maasai Mara and adorned with traditional Maasai regalia, from a distance it’s hard to tell our group apart from local cattle herders – especially once the dancing has started!
Over the course of four days we are visiting four conservancies (Enonkishu, Mara North, Naboisho and Olare Orok) all of which are part of the Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MWCA) and located adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. We support conservancy work in Boni-Dodori so this trip is a great opportunity for us and our partners to share experiences and learn from each other.
Our conservations so far have been diverse – from looking at the role played by women in conservation, to issues of land ownership and its implication on the sustainable management of wildlife, to benefit sharing arrangements between landowners and other community members and the role of county governments. Maasai Mara forms part of a trans-boundary landscape – shared with Tanzania – so there’s also been some interesting conversations on the implications this has for management, particularly poaching.
All too soon it’s going to be time to head home, but we’re excited and armed with key lessons and ideas to take back with us!