By LOISE WACHIRA
Nairobi,September 26,2017.Located adjacent to The Maasai Mara National park, Naboisho is a private conservancy established by individual landowners from the Maasai . It covers approximately 210km² (21,000 Ha.) and habitat to the Maasai community, their livestock and wildlife that dots the picturesque plains of the Maasai Mara which contributes to the biodiversity of the Mara region. Its formation has been as a result of community intervention, which saw the need to manage their land collectively instead of individually.
Over the years, uncontrolled grazing of livestock and management or lack of it across the plains has led to land degradation and increased erosion. This has been the motivation behind the community to drive their livestock into the game reserve in search of pastures and water. In return, it has been a source of human wildlife conflict, as they both scramble for these key resources
Characterized by seasonal streams, Naibosho serves as the head source of water for river streams that feed into other tributaries and eventually into the Mara River. To address these concerns and noting that the community also depends on the wildlife for revenues generated from tourism, the conservancy owners dialogued and saw the need to work together instead of individually.
The start point to this process was to control erosion which was formed as a result of reduced soil cover and increased pressure on the land, for pastures.
This has led to formation of gulley’s, washing away the nutrient rich soil bare, reducing the water infiltration and in return worsening the surrounding ecosystem. According David Matungoi, one of the landowners/community members, he recalls how the land was during his youthful years; “The plains were very green and there was no erosion and our livestock had adequate pastures. I never knew a time would come when there would be no grass, shrubs and that the soil erosion would be this evident leaving our land with very little for our livestock and the wildlife.” With help from MaMaSe and following a consultative survey of the site where a water pan is being put up, the Involvement of the community is critical for them to understand the importance of controlling erosion, not just for this selected water pan site, but for other areas. They have secured the gulley’s using locally available materials; in this case stones and shrubs, to avoid further soil erosion by reducing the speed of the water and to allow the land to ”heal” over time. In return, the MaMaSe programme provided a small grant through MMWCA for an earth-mover to excavate the area where the water pan should be.
On completion of the water pan. It is expected to serve over one hundred homes, which according to Dominic; Community liaison officer, farmers own approximately 20-30 heads of cattle and about 100 flock of goats. He further added that they are also working towards sensitizing the land owners on the need to reduce their number of herds and instead focus on rearing quality breeds which will give them better returns’. This project is one among other interventions that the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water initiative is undertaking along the Mara River Basin towards better water utilization and conservation of the rang-elands.