Management plan launched for Mara conservancies

Tourism CS Najib Balala at Aitong in Maasai Mara during the launch of the wildlife conservancies management plan. Photo Ben Leshau

By Ben Leshau

The Masai Mara Game Reserve ecosystem has received a conservation boost after 16 community conservancies launched a conservation management plan.

The first ever “Greater Mara Ecosystem Conservation Management Plan” was launched after delaying for a decade.

The management plan consists of the seven thematic areas involving wildlife protection, natural resource preservation, land use, opening of wildlife corridors and other sustainable conservation measures.

Speaking during the launch, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the plan will be implemented in the next two years to save the world-famous park from fast-growing population pressure.

“Plans to have the Mara Management plan were there since 2008 before another draft was done in 2016 there was another draft plan but nothing has happened.

Last year I vowed to have the plan by the end of August but we are here today to launch it,”said Mr Balala.

The CS who was accompanied by his Chief Administrative Secretary Joseph Boinet,KWS Director General John Waweru hit out at the Narok County government for allegedly dilly-dallying in coming up with the Mara Management spatial plan.

“I want to tell the county that they are not developing the
management for me as a CS but for yourself and the future posterity of the wildlife heritage.Masai Mara is a jewel of tourism not only to Kenya but to the world and we will never allow it to die,”cautioned Mr Balala.

He warned that if not checked,mushrooming development of hotel facilities and trading centers as well as uncontrolled grazing of livestock in wildlife conservancy areas was posing a threat the existence of wildlife.

The CS has however challenged the 16 conservancies under the Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association(MMWCA)to ensure that the local community benefits are included in the plan for sustainability.

“We do not want a situation where tourists flock Masai Mara park yet the community and the land owners are reduced to spectators. We want the communities to benefit from the proceeds from tourism,”he added.

The CS announced that the government has released Sh2Billion stimulus package to support the community wildlife conservation.

The MMWCA Chief Executive Officer Daniel Sopia reiterated that for the last 10 years the communities living around Masai Mara Game Reserve have embraced wildlife conservancies saying that so far over 15,000 land owners have leased their lands for the course.

“So far we have 1500Kilometers of land where the land owners fetch Sh7.5Billion income for the land lease annually and we have 350 community taking home Sh1Billion to their families,” revealed Mr Sopia.

The USAID Environment Director Aurelia Micko reiterated that the US/Kenya ties in conservation spans over 60 years and that the American government was a reliable conservation partner to Kenya.

“Kenya is a leading in wildlife conservation in the world and should be proud of that. As USAID we have injected over 16Million US Dollars towards conservation in Kenya,” said Ms Micko.

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