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The below information is based on a Spark Talk by Calvin Cottar at Conservation Lab 2016

Kenya’s national parks and reserves are limited in what they can achieve to secure wildlife. Only covering 8% of the land area in Kenya, these state parks were historically created to secure critical dry season habitats for wildlife. 60% of the country’s biodiversity is actually on private and communal land.


This is well demonstrated in the greater Mara ecosystem. The greater Mara ecosystem is 6,000km² and the Maasai Mara National Reserve secures only 1,510km² – meaning that less than one third of the ecosystem and biodiversity is state protected.


Meanwhile, 95% of Kenya’s tourists go to only state parks and reserves, while 0.01% of gross tourism revenues goes to landowners/communities. What this means is that currently tourism is not effective at securing biodiversity, nor does it improve income streams for local communities.


What this means is that land use is changing in the country. Agriculture is increasing at 8% p.a. while general wildlife loss is sitting at 3.2% per year. A massive increase in sheep and goats is causing land degradation, and mechanised agriculture is being implemented on fertile lands.

So how do we reverse this habitat and wildlife loss?

In short, we expand the Mara conservancies. This way we get more livelihood income to local communities, which is easily identifiable as sourced from wildlife, in order to secure more land for wildlife.

Land is now being leased by tourism investors and set aside by the Maasai landowners for wildlife. This process has already been established in 10 Mara conservancies with five more in development with 30 lodges out of 240 in the area taking part. Approximately 5,000 predominately Maasai landowners (40,000 people including their family members) are engaged in this process, with approximately 1,300 jobs created on about 1,150km² of community land neighbouring the state protected area.


The greater Mara ecosystem’s very survival may well depend on which lodge you stay in as a tourist.

View Calvin Cottar’s full talk in the following video:

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