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OLARE MOTOROGI CONSERVANCY (formally Olare Orok Conservancy)

The Conservancy Movement

More than 70% of Kenyas wildlife lives on rangelands outside protected areas i.e. National Parks and National
Reserves. These rangelands belong to a variety of landowners, some of them private individuals, some of them
communities, and some of them groups of individuals on lands that were formally community owned but have
subsequently been subdivided. Many of the landowners are pastoralists such as the Maasai and Samburu
peoples. Their lands comprise most of the key wildlife dispersal areas and migratory corridors bordering the
countrys famous tourism destinations, such as the Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park and
Tsavo National Park. Few protected areas are self-sufficient ecosystems and were these landowners to decide
to fence their land, plough it up for agriculture, or simply get rid of the animals, the countrys wildlife would
become a shadow of its former self.
Originally pioneered in northern Kenya in 2004 by the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, several other organizations,
including the Kenya Wildlife Trust (KWT) and Basecamp Foundation (BCF) in the Mara, the African Wildlife
Foundation (AWF), the African Conservation Centre (ACC) in Amboseli-Tsavo, and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum
(LWF) in Laikipia, have worked productively to convince landowners with wildlife on their land to turn their
land into conservancies. In many cases this has involved seeking investment from tourism partners who have
leased conservancy land to create boutique camps and small lodges, and in other cases it has involved seeking
donor partners to assist with funding. In both cases the goal has been to ensure equitable financial returns to
landowners in return for their support and co-operation.
Instead of 6% of Kenyas land being protected for wildlife, it may soon be 15% or more. And if this is the case,
the biggest winners will not just be the animals and conservationists but, as importantly, the landowning
communities for whom wildlife will prove to be much more of a benefit than a cost. (Source:kenyawildlifetrust.
How the Conservancy Model Came About
May 2006 was a landmark date for conservation in the Masai Mara with the formation of Olare Orok & Motorogi
Conservancies bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve. This was the date when a deal was brokered with the
277 Maasai landowners that has since become the template for the Mara community wildlife conservancies and
a blue-print for the sustainability of the greater Masai Mara eco-system.
Prior to 2006, the Olare Orok and Motorogi Conservancies, 32,000 acres of prime grasslands, riverine forests
and acacia woodlands, were populated by rural homesteads and grazed in an uncontrolled manner by large
herds of cattle, sheep and goats. The eco-system was over-grazed and sustainability of the habitat for both
people and wildlife was being destroyed. After many meetings with the local Maasai it was agreed that a new
community conservation vision should be tried to address sustainability of their land and to add value in both
income and conserving vegetation, so that a combination of wildlife tourism and sustainable rotational grazing
could create a win-win situation for both the Maasai landowners and the wildlife of the Masai Mara eco-
Moving from a bed night system of payment to a monthly rental from the safari camps has given the Maasai
landowners a reliable steady income. The management of the Conservancy is conducted by a Board consisting
of representation from both the Maasai landowners and tourism partners in conjunction with donors who were
instrumental in supporting the Conservancy.
The management, together with facilitators and elders, brokered the removal of homesteads and the reduction
in domestic livestock herd sizes within core conservation areas. In particular, diurnal refuge areas for predators
were left completely free of domestic livestock. As a result, the Conservancy has once again become a haven for
big cats and part of the annual wildebeest migration route. The Conservancy now offers some of East Africas
finest, year-round wildlife viewing. The area boasts one of the highest densities of lions per square kilometre in
Africa and over 50 different species of raptors have been identified.
Tourism in the Conservancy is limited to a maximum of 94 beds in five mobile camps this equates to a ratio
of one game viewing vehicle for every 2,100 acres, a move that is aimed at maximising the client wilderness
experience and minimising the environmental impact of tourism.
The Conservancies have adopted an holistic approach to grazing and pasture management within the
Conservancies, an approach that is not far removed from the traditional Maasai system where the elders would
decide on which areas were grazed and which were left for leaner times. The Kundi Moja or one-herd system
is where the landowners control-graze a small area in a tight formation of their herds and will graze this short
before moving on to the next designated area.
The Conservancies are a partnership between 277 landowners and five tourism operations; founding members
Porini Lion Camp and Kicheche Bush Camp were later joined by Mara Plains Camp and Olare Simba Camp, and
will soon include Virgin Groups Mahali Mzuri Camp. The Conservancies are managed by Olpurkel Ltd., a not-for-
profit company whose shareholders are the operators, and controlled by a Board of equal representation from
both the landowners and the tourism partners along with representatives from the Trust. This ensures that
the Conservancies are run in a fashion that maximises the benefits for all the interested parties no matter how
diverse their interests and needs are. This has led to an interesting blend between conservation and traditional
pastoralism, a recipe that incorporates the puritan elements of conservation with the commercial needs of
making the Conservancies self-sufficient, combined with traditional knowledge gathered through centuries of
These short grass areas, once vacated by the cattle, become hot spots for short-grass loving herbivores.
Water catchments are planned and constructed with these grazing patterns in mind, ensuring that there
are close watering points for both cattle and wildlife. Roads and firebreaks are also planned to minimize the
environmental impact of visitors in the Conservancies whilst maintaining the quality of experience for visitors.
Management has a policy of employing from its landowner community wherever possible and encourages its
partners to follow suit, maximising the benefits derived from conservation tourism.
The Conservancies have strict environmental policies and stipulate that the environmental footprint of its
operators is kept to a minimum, insisting on mobile camps with no foundations, proper garbage and waste
disposal policies and adherence to a strict Code of Conduct with regards to both camp operations and the
behaviour of their clients and guides whilst in the Conservancies. Management works closely with the Olare
Orok Conservancy Trust, which supports the Conservancy and helps spread the benefits of conservation to a far
wider community than the immediate recipient landowners.
Management also works closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in animal health and welfare and have
assisted research foundations such as Living with Lions and Colorado State University with research and
collaring programs, like the recent collaring of 18 wildebeest from the Loita herds to study their little known
migratory route:
Olare Motorogi Conservancy Partners
The Conservancy is owned by 277 Maasai landowners, each holding a freehold title deed for their parcel of land
within the Conservancy. These landowners have formed a partnership with the five tourism operators with the
goal of running the Conservancy as a premium destination offering a private and exclusive experience to our
visitors. At the same time the Conservancy also serves as a pool of natural resources essential to the Maasai
pastoralist community that can be utilized in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The Conservancy landowners are from a mix of clans and the communal pastoral culture of sharing resources
leads to an interesting and novel approach to land use and conservation.
Combining traditional generosity with the western concept of private land ownership has led to the Conservancy
developing a pioneering management model whereby landowners individually lease their land to a land holding
company owned by themselves and, as a group they in turn contract this contiguous area to a management
company. This management partnership is governed by a Board of Directors balanced between landowners,
with more traditional pastoralist interests, and the Conservancys tourism operators, with their more western
commercial understanding.
The management partnership has led to the ability of the Conservancy landowners and the surrounding
communities to maintain much of their pastoral culture at the same time as assuring the landowners a
guaranteed income derived from Tourism. Through a controlled and a well-managed grazing policy the
surrounding Maasai communities have been able to maintain healthy herds of cattle in a region where
overgrazing and poor land management is rapidly drying up the ability to support quality herds of cattle.
The Olare Orok and Motorogi Trust
In working with local communities, the Olare Motorogi Conservancy partners with The Olare Orok &
Motorogi Trust.
The Olare Orok & Motorogi Trust was set up in 2009 to work with communities and other key stakeholders to
uplift communities and enable the successful conservation of the Masai Mara Ecosystem. The Trust works
closely with the Conservancy and is an integral part of a landscape level conservation and development plan
focused on enhanced land-management practices integrated with, and enhanced by, holistic community
development. The Trust acts as a critical link between key local communities, the Conservancy and other
partners and strives towards building sustainable and resilient communities.
Strategic Objectives of the Trust:
In collaboration with the Olare Orok and Motorogi Conservancy, periphery communities and other partners,
develop a sustainable pastoralist land management system that can be a model for adoption across the wider
Design and implement comprehensive education and training programs that support MME conservation
through an integrated land-management plan.
Implement and assess projects and initiatives that add value to this land management plan so that
conservation remains competitive against other land use forms that are not compatible with conservation.
In order to realize the strategic objectives OOMT is developing 5 key programs:
Integrated Livestock Management: This program integrates traditional pastoralist practices and rangeland
management science to enhance land management within the Masai Mara ecosystem. Systems are being
created that add value to livestock management systems that are compatible with wildlife conservation and are
enhanced by the conservancy as a grass resource. Under this program projects include:
breeding for improved stocking
sustainable grazing systems through rotation
water development to allow for enhanced rotational grazing
veterinary services
mobile, predator-proof bomas
access to slaughter facilities and enhanced marketing
sustainable stocking numbers
Outreach & Education: This program implements experiential education programming, capacity building
initiatives and advocacy focused on environmental sustainability and community development challenges.
Projects under this program include:
Environmental education
Leadership development
Seminar series aimed towards building key community proficiencies
Advocacy for conservation and equitable resource distribution
Sustainable Livelihoods: This program utilizes local resources, appropriate technologies and best management
practices to generate economic and environmental resilience within communities. Projects under this program
Appropriate technologies demonstration centre
Sustainable energy solutions
Clean water solutions
Nutrition gardens
Bee keeping and honey production
Sustainable wood lots
Applied Skills Training: This program trains people in practical and marketable skills, aiming to reduce the
unemployment rate of Maasai who wish to be employed in sectors that require higher levels of training.
Available training initiatives include:
Trade skills
Computer Skills
Language Skills
Community Development Internships
Wildlife Management Internships
Management Skills
Holistic Community Development: The Trust partners with periphery communities to help build sustainable
infrastructure that improve livelihoods and are compatible with conservation initiatives.
Mara Plains Camp Community Projects
Through the Olare Orok Conservancy Trust and jointly with other donors, Mara Plains Camp has expanded
the classroom, administrative and dormitory facilities at the Endoinyo Erinka School that neighbours the
In 2012 Mara Plains helped create an Environmental Awareness Club at Endoinyo Erinka School with the goal of
raising awareness and understanding of ecosystems and wildlife among school children - the next generation
of local leaders and conservationists. Club activities include tree re-afforestation, lectures on conservation and
field trips into the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, led by management and guides of Mara Plains Camp.
Community Health
Mara Plains has been a contributor to the Olare Orok Conservancy Trust which has sponsored the building of a
new clinic in the Endoinyo Erinka area.
Water Projects
Mara Plains Camp, through its contribution to the OOCT, has co-sponsored the building of two water projects:
the Mpwai water project in the eastern area of Olare Orok and the Endoinyo Erinka water project which provides
water to the whole community in that area.
Womens Enterprise
Through the Trust, Mara Plains Camp supports the economic empowerment of local women through
enterprises such as micro-financing for commercial bee-keeping, domestic solar lighting and beading workshops
for the production of souvenirs sold at the camp. All proceeds from the camp shop are channelled back to the
community projects. The Endoinyo Erinka womens cooperative is also invited to Mara Plains Camp, on request
by guests, to sell their crafts in a private Maasai soko (market). The women keep and share among them 100% of
the income they make at these markets.
Mara Plains pays the salary of a female group coordinator who manages the womens group, meetings and
community visits by Mara Plains guests.
Cultural Awareness
Community cultural visits for guests of Mara Plains are carried out near the Endonyo Erinka School, a 1 1.5
hour drive. It is an opportunity for guests of Mara Plains to learn about the community of landowners, their
families and the Conservancys involvement with them.
Day trips to the Endoinyo Erinka community can include a visit to the school, clinic, a Maasai boma (homestead)
and also a meeting with the womens beading group. This itinerary can be tailor-made according to guest
interests. For the whole experience guests are kindly requested to pay a small fee into a community fund in
camp. All 100 members of the womens group meet once a month to decide how they would like to spend this
income for the greatest good of all in the Endoinyo Erinka area.
If guests at Mara Plains would like to visit a boma on a cultural day trip to Endoinyo Erinka they will be asked
to pay a small fee (for the whole group, not per person), which is given to the host family at a later date by the
group coordinator. The 100 members of the womens group take it in turns to host visitors, so guests in their
homes will likely be the first foreigners there, making it a very exciting and genuine experience for both parties.
No crafts are sold at the boma, nor does any money change hands while guests are there. Should the guests
wish to buy crafts from the area, they visit the womens group shop so that every member is represented fairly.
Prices in this shop are fixed, labelled and recorded by the group coordinator.
The cultural visit is a highly recommended experience for an in-depth understanding of the Maasai lifestyle. It is
not commercially driven and is a family-friendly experience.
The school visit provides a first-hand experience of the correlation between tourism, conservation and
community. A family-friendly activity, guests can interact with the students and teachers and maybe get
involved with a bit of the class work, football, etc.
With a picnic lunch guests can visit both the school and boma, and enjoy a bit of a game drive back to camp in
the evening.
History of Olare Motorogi Conservancy (formally Olare Orok
Maasai land-owners which resulted in the formation of Olare Orok Conservancy, bordering the Masai Mara
Game Reserve. Olare Orok has become the template for Mara community wildlife conservancies and is set to
become the blue-print for the sustainability of the greater Masai Mara eco-system. The conservancy offers
pleasant and exclusive viewing of game in a pristine environment, with a rich and diverse wildlife population
rarely found anywhere else on the African savannah.
The pioneering Olare Motorogi Conservancy offers one of the highest quality, lowest traffic safari experiences
in the region. Tourism in the Conservancy is limited to a maximum of 94 beds equating to a ratio of one
game viewing vehicle for every 2,100 acres - a formula which maximizes the client wilderness experience and
minimizes the environmental impact of tourism.
Built upon a partnership with local Maasai landowners, Olare Motorogi management has worked with the local
people who agreed to move their homes and cattle, leaving the wildlife completely unimpeded. As a result,
the wildlife population and diversity have greatly increased since the establishment of the Conservancy and
there are good populations of both predators and herbivores, including the Maras famous big cats and many
elephants. Rhino and wild dog have also been sighted, and it could become a very viable habitat for these two
highly endangered species, given the right sort of protection through sensitive tourism development. The area
encompassed within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is a strategic buffer zone for the Masai Mara National
Reserve and the wildlife migration corridors, and will be secured from incompatible land usage, such as wheat
farming, charcoal production and subsistence agriculture, which together displace wildlife habitats at an
alarming rate.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy is set to be a world-class conservancy, generating sustainable income for the
landowners, and supporting an increase in wildlife habitat beyond the Masai Mara National
Olare Motorogi Conservancy Facts
Established: May 2006
Size: 32,000 acres
The Olare Motorogi Conservancy directly adjoins the Masai Mara National Reserve to the south and is an area
of outstanding beauty and importance for wildlife. It encompasses the lower river valleys of the Olare Orok and
Ntiakitiak rivers, together with their associated riverine woodland. The Conservancy also features the impressive
Ntiakitiak Gorge and a beautiful escarpment some 12 kms in length. Below the escarpment are extensive areas
of acacia woodland, which are important habitats for a number of species.
Camps and Lodges
Kicheche Bush Camp
Mara Plains Camp
Mahali Mzuri
Porini Lion Camp
Nomadic Encounters Topi House
Olare Mara Kempinski
Local partners
Tourism partners rent land from 277 Maasai landowners on a monthly basis.
Conservancy fees
US $100 per person per day
Tourism density
94 beds within 21,386 acres = 1 bed per 228 acres
More information
Masai Mara Conservancies Mission
The Olare Motorogi Conservancy is part of five Masai Mara
Conservancies, namely:
Enonkishu Conservancy
Mara Naibosho Conservancy
Mara North Conservancy
Ol Kinyei Conservancy
Olare Motorogi Conservancy
The Mara Conservancies offer visitors the ultimate safari: the lowest tourism densities; incredible day and night
game viewing; and authentic cultural interactions. But above all, the Conservancies are managed according to a
model that protects the delicate eco-system and benefits the landowners themselves the Maasai people.
The Masai Mara Conservancies have common goals:
Safeguard the Masai Mara through professional wildlife management
Direct and transparent revenue distribution to the Maasai landowners
Promotion of strong eco-tourism practices and use of environmentally friendly technologies
Controlled tourism and guaranteed low vehicle density for lower environmental impact
Fundraising for the betterment of the local communities
Lobby government on legislative issues