Land owners around Masai Mara park threaten to ditch wildlife conservation over poor pay

Members of Naboisho wildlife conservancy protesting over alleged low dividends from the tourism investments. [Robert Kiplagat/Standard]
Tourism activities at Naboisho Wildlife Conservancy in the Masai Mara were disrupted yesterday after more than 400 members invaded the 60,000-acre protected area protesting what they termed measly dividends.

The members said they did not want Greater Mara Management (GMM) Limited, a new company, to manage the conservancy.

They said the dividend payout was low despite the 11 luxury camps in the conservancy making huge profits.

Led by Peter Naurori, the members said they opted to give out their land for wildlife conservation in anticipation of income but their dreams had been shattered by oppressive management.

“As members, we have been kept in the dark on the agreement between the conservancy management and tourism partners,” said Mr Naurori.

Dividend earned

The members claimed an owner of about 150 acres got Sh22,000 dividend per month, the amount they said was meagre and exploitative.

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Another land owner Sanjin ole Kereto said they wanted a short period lease agreement with investors as opposed to the current 25-year one.

He said they would revert to their pastoralism activities and crop farming should the management continue oppressing them.

“We were expecting to be paid at least Sh60,000 per month from the conservation, but what we are getting is not worth our land. It is sad to see that the camps that are in this conservancy are always fully booked, yet we, the community, are not feeling it,” said Mr Kereto.

James Nkoitoi, another land owner, said a year ago he chose to fence off 100 acres of his land and reared sheep and beef cattle and raked in more profits compared to what he was getting from the 150 acres he gave out for conservation.

“After I fattened some bulls in my fenced land, I got Sh246,000 within 10 months. So should the management continue oppressing us, we shall find ways of utilising our lands to earn more money,” said Mr Nkoitoi.

By the time of going to the Press yesterday, the enraged members had not removed the hundreds of sheep driven into the conservation area in protest over the alleged poor pay.

Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association Regional Coordinator Daniel Muli yesterday said GMM was there to stay, adding the previous contract with Seyia Limited was terminated.

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Naboisho Wildlife ConservancyMasai MaraGreater Mara Management Limited