Habitat loss poses a significant threat to biodiversity and people’s livelihoods in Kenya and beyond. Rapid land conversion, mostly driven by human population expansion, is behind this threat, and current trends demand innovative and long-term solutions to address it.
For this reason, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Cottar’s Safari Lodges are teaming up to design and deliver conservation programs to support the Olderkesi community in the Masai Mara region in its conservation efforts.
“This conservation partnership joins one of the oldest ecotourism lodges in Kenya’s tourism industry with the oldest conservation organization in Africa. Such a partnership approach is key in supporting the conservation of the Olderkesi Conservancy and surrounding lands—we’re able to draw together Cottar’s longstanding relationships with the community with AWF’s conservation expertise to protect a critical elephant corridor in the Masai Mara,” says Kathleen Fitzgerald, vice president for land protection at AWF.
The Olderkesi Group Ranch is host to one of the few remaining wildlife corridors in the Mara ecosystem. It is a part of a vital corridor between the Loita/Ngurman Hills and the Masai Mara National Reserve, hosting more than 3,000 elephants and thousands of transient plains herbivores, such as wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and giraffes. Similar to other parts of the Mara, wildlife in Olderkesi is threatened by land use change, habitat loss and blockage of corridors due to human activities. The ever-increasing human–wildlife interface has resulted in increased conflicts, leading to retaliatory killings.
The Olderkesi community area is an essential component of the Serengeti–Mara Ecosystem. It remains one of the last group ranches that have not been subdivided, and thus communities still have access to communal grazing areas, unlike other group ranches in the Mara.
“This partnership will enable us to ensure the long-term survival of this critical ecosystem while providing jobs and supporting the local communities in protecting the land upon which they depend,” Calvin Cottar, director, Cottar Safaris.
The Masai Mara Reserve offers one of the Kenya’s premium wildlife reserve and important habitat areas for a great variety of wild African animals. It is unique for its great wildebeest migration, Africa's greatest natural spectacle and central point of branding for Kenya‘s tourism sector.