The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust works to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation that directly benefits local Maasai communities.
The world increasingly relies on many traditional communities like the Maasai to protect the ecological treasures that exist within the land that they own. But the incredible wilderness and wildlife of Africa’s grasslands and the famous culture of the Maasai people both face daunting threats to their long-term survival. The fate of both rests with the Maasai themselves as they work to figure out how to benefit from their incredible natural resources while preserving them.
That’s what MWCT is all about—a pioneering partnership between professional conservationists and dynamic young Maasai leaders to show that the Maasai community can thrive, not just survive, by managing their ecosystem wisely.
Founded in 2,000 by Luca and Antonella, the Trust is now chaired by UNEP Champion of the Earth, Samson Parashina, and its President is UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, Edward Norton.
UNDP celebrated MWCT by awarding it the Equator Prize, at Rio+20, in 2012
MWCT’s efforts are focused on the Maasai communities and landscapes of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, within the world-famous Amboseli-Tsavo Ecosystem. This is Hemingway’s “Green Hills of Africa”, deep cloud forests on hills over the savannah teeming with wildlife and Mount Kilimanjaro rising out of the plains.
The Maasai communities of this area own all of the land between the protected National Parks and within their land lie critical wildlife migration corridors and habitat reserves, forests that are carbon sinks and rivers and springs that supply the fresh water not only to this ecosystem but to more than seven million people in Kenya, including the second largest city.
MWCT funds and operates Education (more than 8,000 pupils in primary schools), Health (serving a community of 17,000 Maasai) and Conservation programs that promote sustainable economic benefits from conserving this ecosystem.
Lease payments for conservancy zones, carbon credits, payments for watershed protection, sustainable ecotourism, wildlife monitoring and security, conservation and tourism employment—these are just some of the ways MWCT is creating a cutting edge model of successful community- based conservation.
For every day you stay at Campi ya Kanzi, you pay a $101 conservation fee directly to MWCT, enabling it to deliver direct tourism benefits to the whole community, through the employment of 300 Kenyans, delivering health, education and conservation services.