The Mara Naboisho Conservancy – a 50,000 acre community pastoralist and wildlife conservation area – is located in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. The conservancy, which falls within the Greater Mara Region and was carved out of the Koyaki-Lemek Group Ranch, borders the world famous Masai Mara National Reserve to the south west, the Olare Orok Conservancy to the west, and the Ol Kinyei Conservancy to the east.
Naboisho, which means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language, is a community response to the challenges of the privatization of group ranches in the Greater Mara Region. Strain was put on the soil, endemic vegetation, and the wildlife as a result of intensive herding and various tourism activities such as camping and off-road vehicle activity. The conservancy provides the opportunity to conserve the land and wildlife, whilst simultaneously creating wealth for the landowners.
There are approximately 500 local Maasai landowners in Naboisho. Inspired by their neighbours in the Olare Orok Conservancy, these landowners asked the Basecamp Foundation Kenya to facilitate the formation of the conservancy as a community wildlife area. In 2008, a forum – which brought together community leaders, upcoming community champions, dedicated resource managers, seasoned conservationists, experienced socio-ecologists and tourism investors – was convened to chart out a broader framework for the development of Naboisho. It was agreed that the conservancy model should combine conservation of nature and cultural heritage, tourism, and the enhancement of livelihoods for the local communities. On the 28th of March 2010, the landowners formerly signed a 15-year lease to create the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is now the second largest conservancy in the region. Once the conservancy was established, a plan was put in place to ensure that the environment was given a chance to recover, that wildlife was protected, and that the landowners benefitted, both financially and from a social development perspective.