In simple terms, it’s known as ‘land leasing’. The conservancy is managed by Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust (CWCT), which leases the land from the Olderkesi Community Wildlife Conservancy Trust (OCWCT).
The 7000 acres of the Olderkesi Conservancy is owned by all 6000 landowners of the 106,000 Olderkesi Group Ranch, but it is rented by Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust. CWCT arranges a long-term lease of land from the OCWCT, paying fair rates that exceed what could be earnt by subdividing land with fences and implementing competing land uses such as monoculture domestic farming or livestock. Rent payments go to the entire community, not just a few leaders in the group – everyone gets an equal share. CWCT also assists with creating opportunity and growth for the community in other ways.
To date, the CWCT has built schools, provided medical and ambulance services, employed security scouts from the community, installed radio communication networks, built water troughs for cattle, and provided bursaries and local assistance to protect local cedar forests from predatory logging. In return, the leased land is to be left alone, free of settlements, farming, and uncontrolled domestic livestock grazing and exists to create safe habitat and passage for wildlife. The Maasai agree to live on demarcated areas of the land, supported in part by the payments from the Conservancy. The land-use policies are enforced by the Maasai people, with assistance from CWCT where necessary. In general, communities don’t want to be completely rid of wildlife, but they have to see a benefit to the risks of having wildlife in the area. Conflict arises when humans and wildlife clash due to space encroachment… people are less inclined to want elephants around when they can destroy a whole season’s crop in one night, or when lions can kill valuable cattle, or little kids are at risk from wildlife. Setting aside land for wildlife and providing monetary benefits to the community for protecting wildlife helps alleviate this conflict. Wildlife has free space to roam, and the people are happy. Not only that- communities who see benefits in wildlife play active roles in protecting it.
The development projects we are hoping to achieve over the next 3 years and beyond:
- Manage the phase 1 of the Olderkesi Community Wildlife Conservancy effectively (immediate)
- Fund the land bank necessary to pay the leases for phases 2, 3 & 4
- Build a new primary school at Oltulele (start within 3 years funding permitting/required) and the vocational training centre for adults at olpalagilagi
- Build a girl’s rescue home (start within 3 years funding permitting/required)
- Build solar power ‘mini-grids’ in 5 identified urban centers (start in 2021)
- Development of the Olderkesi Land Use Plan (ongoing, funding required)