Investors in Mara ecosystem sign lease agreements with county

Governor Patrick Ntutu witnesses the signing of lease agreements between Narok County, investors and hoteliers at Keekorok Lodge. [John Tiapuke, Standard]

Twenty-four conservancies operating within the Maasai Mara ecosystem have signed lease agreements with the Narok County government.

For the first time ever, the county government has recognised the crucial role played by the community in safeguarding the rich biodiversity of the Maasai Mara. 

The signing of the agreement that was witnessed by Governor Patrick Ntutu last Saturday, was in line with the Maasai Mara Management plan. 

Within the great plains of Masai Mara are Maasai community-owned conservancies that offer distinct safari activities, superlative accommodations, stunning scenery and varied wildlife experiences. 

In the North of Masai Mara there is Mara Naboisho, Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Ol Kinyei, Ol Choro Oiroua, Lemek. In the East Masai Mara, there are Siana and Nashulai conservancies. 

Others are Olderkesi South of the Masai Mara, Mara Triangle and Oloisukut on the West Masai Mara. 

The signed agreements will protect landlords and investors in the 24 wildlife conservancies in the greater Maasai Mara ecosystem in line with the Maasai Mara Management Plan. 

While witnessing the signing of leases entered between, hoteliers and other investors in the tourism sector at Kekorok Lodge, Governor Ntutu said his administration has established standard registered leases to protect the parties involved. 

“We are issuing a 33-year lease certificate to the beneficiaries, and a 32-year lease certificate to the investors. We are nearly finished with this exercise, as 99 per cent of the lease agreements have already been signed,” he said. 

The conservancy provides the opportunity to conserve the land and wildlife, while simultaneously creating wealth for the Maasai landowners who live alongside wildlife and their livestock. 

The key objectives of setting conservancies in the Mara were to conserve the biological resources and the socio-cultural heritage of the conservancy area, promote tourism through partnering with investors and contribute to wealth creation for landowners. 

The establishment of conservancies that encircle the protected 1,510 sq kilometres of Masai Mara National Reserve is meant to advance wildlife management strategies for flora and fauna to over 3,000 sq kilometres of community land.

Ntutu reiterated that his administration was conscious of the fact that the locals, investors and county government could reap optimum benefits from the Mara as a natural resource, only if the parties agreed to conserve, protect and manage it effectively for posterity. 

“Effective management of the Maasai Mara has been a key focus of my administration. Over the past year, we have put in place key management plans that are revolutionising operations at the reserve where the Maasai Mara Management Plan is one of them,” he said. 

The governor assured that his government was improving the infrastructure including roads, bridges and the airstrip to make the Mara a self-sustaining ecosystem. 

The governor who was joined by a host of MCAs, Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancy Association Manager Daniel Sopia, County Secretary Mayian Tuya, County Attorney Allan Meingati and County Executive Members revealed that a modern tourism college at the Mara eco-system has been set up in one of the conservancies and is undergoing upgrading to the national TVET status. 

The world's famous national reserve attracts millions of local and foreign tourists every year and is the key source of income for Narok County generating more than Sh3 billion annually.