A collaborative visit to MMWCA, Kenya 

By Pieter Nel, Senior Trainer 

One of the Tusk Collaboration grants awarded to College was used to assess how two training providers, the College and the Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), can best collaborate in future endeavours, focusing on our Eco Ranger programme. This programme promotes training for cattle herders within communities in order to improve grazing and lessen human-wildlife conflict. 

I arrived in Kenya to a most lovely setting of an airstrip nestled in a bend of the Mara river with the plains on the one side. A man named Johnson waited for me and took me to where I would be staying in the village of Aitong. Chris was going to be my host for the next four days. Good meals, comfortable accommodation and smiling faces for the whole week! Perfect. 

On Tuesday I visited MMWCA HQ. Daniel Muli orientated me on the organisation and how they fit in with regards conservancies in the Mara. Daniel explained, at length, the different land tenures in Kenya. We visited the Mara Training Centre on Enonkishu Conservancy in the afternoon. Rebekah Kamiri, the manager, explained how the conservancy herd is managed. The economic model around the herd was interesting.

The next day we visited the Mara North Conservancy herd, owned by the conservancy and not the separate landowners. This model is of particular interest to the SAWC as it could prove the catalyst to more participation in the Herding4Health model or similar models.  

We also visited herds on the other conservancies, which are owned by landowners and not the conservancies, the kraal sites, and a Masai village. 

To learn the ways which the herds are being used to benefit tourism outcomes within the tourism areas was encouraging, although concerns of the lack of planning lingered throughout.  

I met Morris, the principle at the new school, (Koyaki Guiding school is changing to the Mara Wildlife College) the next morning. A very knowledgeable, pleasant and passionate individual, his vision on the new school is inspirational. 

My observations from the trip were as follows: 

  1. The situation of people owning land and moving away from communal situations should be documented and researched so implementation in other countries can be implemented with less growing pains.
  2. Grazing plans should consider the time and number of herds as it appears recovery periods are currently the only consideration. We need to get a more in-depth understanding what is going wrong in the planning and implementation in order to address these shortfalls. 
  3. “Predator proof” bomas can be used to great effect in the current MMCA context. 
  4. A five-day “Introduction to Eco Ranger” course for the herders and farmers/land owners will be beneficial to the MMCA, and will be an ideal opportunity to communicate conservation outcomes, visions, and Herding for Health principles and compliance.

5. Training on basic animal health care, and advanced healthcare is needed so livestock medicine can be administered. I saw horrific injuries to a heifer, and bite marks from hyena on other animals. If herders can vaccinate and treat wounds, it will be hugely beneficial. 

6. A long-term project to breed nutritionally and ensure disease adapted animals should be launched as a matter of urgency.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Kenya and came back inspired and with renewed hope. The Mara is without doubt one of the hot beds of human and wildlife interaction, and we should be learning as much as possible from what is happening there.

Thank you to Tusk for making the visit possible and to the MMWCA for their hospitality and sharing of knowledge with me. From a scientific and herding perspective, I see a prosperous relationship in the future for our organisations.