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Conservation Programs

1. Tourism / Wildlife Pays

MWCT has helped Kuku Group Ranch get one of the best deals in Kenya with its tourism partner, Campi ya Kanzi. “Best” as defined by base management concession fee, highest conservation surcharge in Kenya ($101 per person per day), 95% of employs from within immediate local community and sustainability of operational standards by the lodge (Campi ya Kanzi lodge uses only solar energy for both electricity and hot water, manages waste sustainably and recycles all black water and gray water and is the only camp in Kenya that is largely water self-sufficient, using selfcollected rainwater as opposed to drawing from community water sources).

Results of these policies are that Campi ya Kanzi is one of the most highly awarded “eco-lodges” in all of Africa and revenues from tourism to the community have become reliable and substantial, approaching $400,000/year.

This is an ‘achieved’ objective but MWCT serves as the official oversight/management representative for the community in enforcing compliance and managing the revenues from conservation surcharges.

Tourism surcharges are used by MWCT to fund Wildlife Pays, a program that compensates livestock herders for losses to wildlife predation through a rigorous system of certification and monitoring of best practices. Maasai livestock owners are paid quarterly for value of losses in exchange for full protection of predators throughout the group ranch.

MWCT’s Wildlife Pays uses no philanthropic funding to pay for this program. Surcharges levied on tourists coming to see wildlife more than cover the annual compensation costs, establishing a pioneering and sustainable new model of Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) around the protection of wildlife.

4 year goal: MWCT is promoting this sustainable model of ‘wildlife protection PES’ and has opened discussions with major tourism industry leaders within the ecosystem about scaling this program by applying wildlife PES surcharges on the bednights of larger hotel concessions within the parks to fund expansion of compensation and security capacity throughout the community lands between Amboseli and Tsavo.

2. Wildlife Monitoring, Security and Recovery

MWCT employs more than 100 game scouts and predator monitors and is engaged in a comprehensive program, under formalized partnership with KWS, to prevent illegal activity, reduce human/wildlife conflict and monitor impacts on biodiversity. MWCT is one of the largest employers of community rangers and wildlife monitors in the ecosystem after Kenya Wildlife Service.

Objectives in this program are to increase capacity for wildlife protection and monitoring throughout the community lands in the ecosystem, monitor and maintain conservancy zones, improve quality and volume of data collection by training the existing community rangers in cutting-edge methods of cyber-data collection and generally increase the use of science based practice in our assessment of impacts on species populations.

Formal training and ‘deputization’ of MWCT scouts has recently been approved by KWS so that MWCT can now work in even closer coordination with national authorities. KWS recently signed a formal MoU with MWCT to support its security operations. MWCT seeks to expand this program into neighboring group ranches.

3. Land Conservancies

MWCT has developed an ambitious model for a network of land conservancy zones focused on securing the integrity of key ecosystem components and services that lie within the community owned lands between the national parks. The network of conservancies we are seeking to secure would constitute over 150,000 acres of the most important ecological zones (corridors, grassland reserves, watersheds and springs) and the long term management deals in our model would ensure that good stewardship of the ecosystem would also create alternative livelihood opportunity with meaningful sustainable revenue for the community, whose cattle economy suffers ever more regularly from the impacts of climate change and drought.

To demonstrate the viability of this program MWCT has negotiated, secured and funded two such management deals for a key grasslands habitat reserve and a critical wetland that lies directly within the migration corridor. These conservancy zones total over 12,000 acres (with near-term potential to expand to 22,000) and are among very few such deals, generating direct annual revenue, to be successfully negotiated with an intact Group Ranch along the Amboseli-Tsavo migration corridor.

We now hope to achieve a third conservancy zone around a key water source and to find specific sources of long-term funding for the lease payments while also beginning to raise money for a permanent endowment to fund the conservancy network.

4-year goal is to raise a $8 million dollar Phase 1 endowment to fund the Kuku Conservancies in perpetuity and then carry ‘proof of concept’ to the potential partner-funders like Nature Conservancy and seek their help in scaling the endowment and the network throughout the ecosystem.

4. Payment for Ecosystem Services – PES

MWCT is leading and coordinating efforts assess the potential value of carbon and watershed services that could bring additional revenue to the community for sustainable stewardship of ecosystem assets like forests and water sources.

MWCT and Kuku community have signed an MoU creating a formal partnership and strategy designating MWCT as the community’s agent in developing, negotiating and managing payment for ecosystem service deals from all community resources. This is the first such partnership ever created within the Maasai Group Ranches of the A-T ecosystem.

MWCT has secured funding through Conservation International and the JP Morgan Fund for an initial assessment on carbon assets in the Kuku and Rombo Group Ranches and brokered a formal partnership between both Kuku and Rombo communities and Wildlife Works (WW). WW is a private sector carbon project designer and implementer that has brokered the only two revenue generating, verified carbon credit trading projects in Kenya. WW has nearly completed its initial assessments of carbon stocks in Kuku and Rombo. We recenntly had the project validated and we are now working it its verification.

MWCT hosted the first ever ‘Chyulu carbon summit’ at its headquarters, The Chyulu Conservation and Research Center, in March of 2011. In attendance were officials of Kuku and Mbirikani Group Ranches, Kenya Wildlife Service, Conservation International, Wildlife Works, African Wildlife Foundation, UNEP and Maasailand Preservation Trust. This was the first coordinated meeting of all the Chyulu Forest Maasai stakeholders and representative organizations with government, NGO’s and private sector carbon brokers.

MWCT also recently extended its PES program by coordinating a landmark collaboration, on behalf of all stakeholders within the Chyulu Hills ecosystem, with Conservation International, AECOM, Pavan Sukdhev’s GIST Advisory Group, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) and Chyulu Hills Conservation Working Group to formulate a multi-pronged assessment, protection and collateralization strategy for the critical Chyulu Forest-Mizima Springs watershed. Nearly 7 million people, almost a quarter of Kenya’s population including the city of Mombasa, rely fundamentally on Mizima Springs for fresh water and the MWCT/CI initiative is the first such coordinated strategy to address long-term security for this ‘life blood’ of the ecosystem.

4-year goals include: funding further carbon and watershed service assessments (including the Kilimanjaro-Chyulu watershed); successfully broker carbon and watershed assets into emerging global markets and PES models that reward local communities with sustainable livelihood through ‘stewardship’ services.

5. Grassland management plan

MWCT has engaged with the Zoological Society of London to initiate a research partnership based at our new Chyulu Conservation and Research Center to study impacts of herding practice, fire and drought on grasslands and develop a long-term management strategy for sustainable use.

One year goal is to identify initial ‘scope’ for research and find joint funding with partners to initiate study.

6. Species Research

MWCT has engaged in an exciting new relationship with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to develop species monitoring protocols standardized with Tsavo Nat. Park research teams. This partnership will facilitate data-sharing across the ecosystem and help to understand long-term trends of abundance and distribution of key wildlife species. Under the leadership of Conservation Program Directors MWCT is for the first time beginning the work of backing up our ‘anecdotal’ successes with solid scientific assessment of the impact of our conservation programs.

4 year goal: establish clear research agendas that service conservation implementation, fund them and recruit research talent with the goal of producing and publishing new scientific studies. Also implement long-term monitoring protocols for key species.

7. Chyulu Conservation and Research Center

Using funds raised in the highly publicized “Maasai Marathon” campaign during the 2009 NY Marathon, MWCT acquired and renovated a defunct safari camp, transforming into the Chyulu Conservation and Research Center. More than just a headquarters for MWCT, the CCRC is a fully equipped and appointed facility that will serve as the hub and host of the many diverse collaborations and partnerships supporting MWCT’s agenda. In addition, CCRC represents yet another alternative employment and training opportunity for people from the local community to work in conservation as staff, security and increasingly sophisticated roles like research assistants.

8. Conservation Employment / Local Leadership Development

Total revenues entering the community through conservation related employment have become substantial. MWCT is the largest employer in the Kuku community and is proactively cultivating and training a new generation of leaders within the community Samson Parashina embodies this commitment. The son of a local chief, he started as a waiter at the ecotourism lodge and rose to become President of MWCT. While still working as a guide he graduated in Sociology in Nairobi, while also negotiating all MWCT agreements with the community leaders.

The Director of Community Rangers Program is Maasai from the local community. The Wildlife Pays Coordinator, the new Conservation Support Officer and the Simba Scout Coordinator are all from the local Maasai community. The Director of Finance, Titus Muia, (who also serves as the Director of Education Programs) is also Kenyan.

4 year goal is to identify and cultivate program officers from within the local community who will become MWCT’s ultimate future and conservation leaders within the ecosystem.

Education and Health Programs

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MWCT recognizes that, along with a healthy, sustaining environment necessary for their traditional pastoralist culture and livelihood, the Maasai community’s top priorities are improved education and health services.

MWCT supports 22 local primary schools, built a new school that services over 900 students, employs 52 teachers, which constitutes the large majority of the educators working on the Group Ranch. MWCT also funds and operates the only special ‘academy’ for highly talented students in the regions, the Kanzi Academy. MWCT has funded dozens of scholarships for postsecondary education and is continuing to expand the effort to find more scholarship sponsors.

2 year goal: hire an Education Program Director and find dedicated grant funding to underwrite teacher salaries and offer universities scholarships.

In Health, MWCT supports 4 local health dispensaries in partnership with the Kenyan government, employs the only local doctor and supporting nurses and recently built a new laboratory for diagnosis.

MWCT was recently awarded a three-year grant by the Susan Komen Foundation to fund a Health Program Director. With assistance from Partners in Health, MWCT has recruited a Heatlh Coordinator to  coordinating all strategic planning, governmental relations, measurement of clinical program data and sourcing grants for the health program. We have also built the only laboratory for the 16,000 Maasai community. We support from the Hicks Foundation we have assisted with main dispensary with running water and solar electricity.

4 year goal: establish dedicated funding pipelines for Education and health programs and deeper integration with national health and education agencies and efforts. Achieve the goal of some of these services being paid for by renewable natural resource based revenue models.

Community Benefit Standards

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Notably, MWCT has pioneered very rigorous accountability for how conservation benefits and revenues flow into the community. The large majority of current payments for land conservancy leases and other such direct benefits are paid in the form of new employments, whether to augment the community ranger program or at the new Conservation Center or in the Education and Health Programs

Goal: MWCT aspires to develop a community membership roster that can be used as the basis for a shareholder dividend arrangement as revenues increase, ensuring true widespread, traceable benefit throughout the community. UNDP and UNEP have both identified ‘certified community benefit sharing’ as a critical criteria in its funding priorities.

Equipment & Infrastructure

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The incredible generosity of our supporters, both grassroots and foundations, allowed MWCT to acquire critically needed equipment and make substantial infrastructure investments in the past year. From additional new Land Rovers, including a medical vehicle, to new staff accommodations at CCRC, to anti-fire equipment, tents and radios and GPS units for community rangers, computers and key software, vehicle maintenance and repair equipment, water storage… MWCT is better equipped to support our work in a rugged and remote landscape than ever before.

Goal: raise funds for more vehicles, a light aircraft to enable air patrols, more equipment for our growing force of community rangers, weapons for the KWS-trained rangers to be strategically armed against poachers, expanded accommodations for visiting collaborators and researchers at CCRC, computers and other office equipment, website design and engineering….

A full comprehensive list has recently been created with input from the Exec Director, President, and all Program Managers with ongoing operating costs for all items calculated and projected.