WWF-Kenya was recently feted for the second year running as the Best Conservation Organization in the Mara Basin during the 5th Mara Day celebrations. The organization was recognized by stakeholders led by the county governments within the basin for its key role in promoting sustainable use of natural resources (water and forest); support to communities well being and the protection of the African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) and black rhino.
Mara Day is an annual trans-boundary event that is aimed at creating awareness of the importance of the basin in Kenya and Tanzania. This year’s celebration theme was Mara Conservation, My Responsibility and the event was held in Bomet County.
Protecting the Mara Basin is critical as it hosts unique ecosystem such as the Mau Forest Complex, Mara River and the world famous Mara National Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park. Mau Forest Complex, which is the largest remaining indigenous montane forest in East Africa and Kenya’s largest ‘water tower’, is also the source of Mara River. The Mara River is the only reliable source of surface water to the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and the lifeline of the eighth wonders of the world: annual wildebeest migration.
WWF-Kenya sustainable initiatives and the conservation of wildlife within the Mara Basin are undertaken in collaboration with the community associations; Water Users Associations (WRUAs), Community Forest Associations (CFAs), conservancies and in partnership with state and non state actors, with support from development partners.
The organization’s notable initiatives within the landscape include Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) and adoption of better land use practices within a key sub catchment of the Mara River, the Nyangores sub catchment and the introduction of constructed wetlands in major hotels and lodges in the Mara to promote waste water management.
Through the Holistic Rangeland Management in Siana and Enonkishu conservancies, WWF-Kenya further aim to ensure that enough pasture and space for people, livestock and wildlife is secured. To protect key habitats and dispersal areas for wildlife WWF-Kenya has also endeavour to strengthen the governance of Siana and Oloisukut conservancies.
Other initiatives to protect the water catchments within the basin includes the Participatory Forest Management and benefit sharing arrangements in the Mau Forest complex; Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to introduce school going children to the need to conserve the environment and introduction of energy efficient stoves in schools to reduce reliance on wood fuel.
WWF-Kenya has also supported Narok and Bomet County to develop Spatial Plans to promote equity and guide socio economic development in the counties.