CONSERVATION: Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust (CWCT) supports the establishment of a 6,000 acre Olderikesi Wildlife Conservancy pilot project on the boundary and key wildlife corridor of the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park. CWCT has been actively engaged in the preservation of natural habitats and wildlife in the are and in securing the area from poachers an for the protection of the community.
COMMERCE: The Cottar's are in partnership with the Masai community and manage their land on their behalf (for wildlife use) at rates competitive with other economic uses providing alternative livelihood opportunities.
CULTURE: Cottars Camp is neighbored by the Maasai community, a tribe that has so far maintained its traditional way of life. To ensure guests don’t miss out on the intricacies of this vibrant culture, Cottars take them on excursions to various Maasai villages for them to experience Maasai culture first hand. We also provide a market for beadwork and other traditional handicrafts produced by Maasai women as an additional way of preserving Maasai culture and support for development.
COMMUNITY: Cottar's 1920's Camp maintains close ties to neighboring communities and is keen to address the challenges they face. The CWCT has for many years actively supported the Maasai community's struggle to obtain land tenure resulting in the legal ownership of the Olderkesi Group Ranch in 2010.
We take pride in saying that most of our employees are from the local community, by this we are actively involving them in development. We conduct local clinic visits (dental, ambulance transfers and other general services) which are arranged by Volunteer groups who come through Cottar’s 1920’s camp. We have also built a foot bridge with the Bridging the Gap Africa. The people can now access social amenities unlike before where they had difficulty crossing the Sand River especially during floods. The bridge is now saving an average of six lives a year.
The Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust ( CWCT) will be running a scout operation for wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching and anti-deforestation, and a host of other functions necessary to operate a wildlife conservancy. We have also acquired a gyrocopter to do aerial reconnaissance of activities within the conservancy and wider Mara area to help build a time lapse data base of land use change, wildlife and livestock counts and additional donor funding for this will have a big impact on land use change decisions for the future.
In regards to being members of the Long Run Destinations which practice the 4C’s (Community, Conservation, Culture & Commerce), and prior to the conservancy project, Cottars built the Olpalagilagi Primary School for a total of 200 students, paying teachers salaries and – to keep the children coming to school – we also run a feeding program for them.
Many thanks to all the people and organizations that made efforts to support CWCT. Nothing of value is ever for free, nor can anything sustainable be achieved without ownership and commitmnet by the intended beneficiaries.
CUTTING EDGE CONSERVATION
In simple terms it’s known as ‘land leasing.’ The conservancy is managed by Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust (CWCT) , which leases from the Olderkesi Community Wildlife Conservancy (OCWC). The 7000 acres of the Olderkesi Conservancy is owned by all 6000 landowners of the 106,000 Olderkesi land unit, but it is rented by Cottar’s Wildlife Conservancy Trust. CWCT arranges a long-term lease of land from the OCWC, paying fair rates that exceed what could be charged by subdividing land with fences and putting competing land uses such as monoculture domestic farming or livestock.
This is most easily described as ‘renting land for wildlife.’ Rent payments go to the entire community, not just a few leaders in the group - everyone gets an equal share. CWCT also assists with creating opportunity and growth for the community in other ways. To date, the CWCT has built schools, provided medical and ambulance services, employed security scouts from the community, installed radio communication networks, built water troughs for cattle, and provided bursaries and local assistance to protect local cedar forests from predatory logging. In return, the leased land is to be left alone, free of settlements, farming, and uncontrolled domestic livestock grazing, and exists to create safe habitat and passage for wildlife.
The Maasai agree to live on other sections of their land, supported in part by the payments from the Conservancy. The land use policies are enforced by the Maasai people, with assistance from CWCT where necessary. In general, communities don’t want to be completely rid of wildlife, but they have to see a benefit to the risks in having it around. Conflict arises when humans and wildlife clash due to space encroachment...people are less inclined to want elephants around when they can destroy a whole season’s crop in one night, or when lions can kill valuable cattle, or little kids are at risk from desperate wildlife searching for territory and food.
Setting aside land for wildlife and providing monetary benefits to the community for protecting wildlife helps alleviate this conflict. Wildlife has free space to roam, and the people are happy. Not only that- communities who see benefits in wildlife play active roles in protecting it.