The greater Serengeti – Masai Mara Ecosystem (SMME), 30,000 km2, is an important transboundary landscape between Kenya and Tanzania. The Olderkesi Group Ranch is a core part of this ecosystem, abutting the Masai Mara National Reserve to the east and wildlands in Tanzania to the south.
To protect the wildlife and wild lands of the area, and to support the needs and aspirations of the local Maasai community, Cottar’s 1920s Camp and Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust (CWCT) supported the creation of the Olderkesi Wildlife Conservancy, a community conservation area of 7,000 acres (28 km2).
In early 2020, CWCT launched an important partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). Cottar’s, AWF and the community share a vision for this landscape that embraces an integrated approach to conservation, supporting sustainable development of Olderkesi, by enhancing conservation in a way that supports the local community. Given that sub-division of communal land is taking place across Kenya, there is an opportunity to develop Olderkesi in a way that can serve as a model for other areas in Kenya undergoing the same sub-division. AWF and Cottar’s aim to:
- Expand the area under conservation across the Olderkesi Group Ranch;
- Protect the extraordinary wildlife;
- Train, equip and deploy community rangers to protect the conservancy;
- Introduce conservation enterprises that increase revenue to households, teach community members new skills and improve the overall quality of living across Olderkesi; and
- Develop green village centers that have alternative energy, water catchment and other social services that can catalyze business and development while alleviating pressure on natural resources.
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing a new CWCT Emergency Fund has taken precedence. Tourism and related industries have been decimated. Revenue has all but dried up as a result, and the funds required to support families and our conservancy needs to be replenished.
The drastic reduction in tourism revenue is jeopardizing the wellbeing of Maasai people, the endangered wildlife and the wild lands that CWCT and AWF support. In Olderkesi, approximately 6,000 families rely on tourism and conservation funds to support their well-being. Fifty-eight (58) critical jobs are at risk, including those of 29 rangers, 9 teachers and multiple others responsible for the well-being of the community and wildlife alike. To ensure the continuation of this important work, CWCT has instituted a lean budget and will implement only the most vital activities. The CWCT management team has accepted a 25% cut in salary and Cottar’s 1920’s Camp has committed to funding 59% of these salaries. CWCT now needs to raise $200,000 to sustain livelihoods, conserve wildlife, manage wild lands and provide specific support to the Maasai community during the next 9 months.
Objectives & Activities
Objective 1: Ranger Salaries and Community Outreach
On average, every salary supports an additional 8 people, impacting the lives of an added 416 people.
- Ranger Salaries – 29 rangers, 5 site guards, 1 senior warden, 4 support staff
- Community Salaries – 9 teachers, 1 school cook, 1 community manager, 1 outreach officer, 1 community liaison officer
- COVID-19 awareness campaign. Maasai are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to widespread respiratory issues and cultural customs that include being in close proximity to one another. The first case of COVID-19 was identified in the Masai Mara on March 26, 2020. Our campaign will work with the local chiefs and clinics and communicate through mobile phone, important messages on COVID-19 mitigation messages in the Maa language as well as how to deal with the virus should it be contracted.
- Mobile Community illegal wildlife trade (IWT) awareness campaign.
- 68 school scholarships *Assuming COVID-19 doesn’t prevent school from resuming in May.
- School lunch for 600 children *Assuming COVID-19 doesn’t prevent school from resuming in May.
- Ongoing work in mitigating the illegal wildlife trade.
- General community support where needed.
Objective 2: Ensure Olderkesi Wildlife Conservancy Remains Reserved for Wildlife
Six thousand members of the Maasai community jointly own the 7,000 acre (28 km2) conservancy, which is a vital dispersal area for wildlife and a corridor for elephant movements to the Loita Hills. The community has entered an agreement with CWCT to conserve the land for wildlife in exchange for a lease fee from CWCT.
|Budget Item; April – December 2020||Amount||Secured||Remaining|
|1||Ranger Salaries and Community Outreach||$125,126||$17,208||$107,918|
|3||Operating Expenses (fuel, insurance, phones, etc.)||$33,441||$0||$33,441|
|4||Conservancy Management (at 25% salary reduction)||$33,141||$0||$33,141|
CWCT and AWF are requesting that you consider a gift of to support emergency funding of Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust:
- Your gift of $5,000 could provide salaries and meals to 29 rangers for just under 6 months
- Your gift of $1,000 could provide nearly 4 weeks of critical community outreach regarding COVID-19 to vulnerable Maasai families in their native language of Maa
- Your gift of $500 could protect important habitat in the Olderkesi Conservancy
- Your gift of $100 could counter the Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Masai Mara
Please help us today by showing your support for the people and wildlife of this unique, beautiful and critical landscape. Thank you for your immediate and compassionate response.
To Make a Gift
Payable – African Wildlife Foundation
Mail to – 1100 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Ste. 900
Washington, DC 20003
Memo – Cottar’s
Lindsay Hance Kosnik
Vice President, Development & Public Engagement
African Wildlife Foundation