The Big 4 conservancies of Maasai Mara national reserve
The Big 4 conservancies of Maasai Mara national reserve : Maasai Mara national reserve is one of the best game destinations in Kenya located in the Rift Valley Province, the reserve covers an area of 1,510 square kilometers.
Maasai Mara national reserve comprises of a number of conservancies but below are the major and longest-standing conservancies in the reserve and these include Mara North, Naboisho, Ol Kinyei and Olare Motorogi. A conservancy refers to a very specific form of land and wildlife conservation where landowners enter into lease agreements with the safari operators to conservation their animals in return theyget monetary compensation.
Mara North conservancy is the largest conservancy in Maasai Mara national reserve founded in 2009 covering an area of 74000 acres, Mara North conservancy is situated in the northern region of Maasai Mara national reserve forming the north western zone of the great Mara ecosystem which is a home to ahuge population of Leopards.
Mara North Conservancy is a non-profit organization belonging to the Great Maasai Mara Ecosystem featuring the wildest extension, the conservancy was formed and operates as a result of collaboration between 12 accommodations and more than 800 Maasai landowners.
Mara North Conservancy is a key region for the Great wildebeest migration as most of the herds (wildebeests, zebras, gazelles) who do not stop in the Mara triangle or other areas of the reserve push further North. Mara North Conservancy is affected by the Loito Hills Migration (the migration moves between the area of northern reserves, Loito Hills and Maasai Mara national reserve).
Mara North Conservancy comprises of grassy and shrubby savannah providing a perfect home for various wildlife species including big 5 and about 450 species of birds. Animals inhabiting in Mara North Conservancy include lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, several species of antelopes, impalas and many more. Birds found in Mara North Conservancy include white-faced Whistling- duck, northen pintail, comb (knob-billed) Duck, secretary bird, white-headed vulture, Egyptian vulture, hooded vulture, Twing Eagle, Steppe Eagle, African fish – Eagle, western Banded Snake Eagle, Black Kite, Bat Hawk and many more.
In Mara North Conservancy there are a number of lodges accommodating tourists visiting the area and Maasai Mara national reserve for a Kenya safari and these include Elephant Pepper Camp, Saruni Mara, Kicheche Mara Camp and many more.
Naboisho Mara Conservancy
Naboisho Mara conservancy is a nature conservation area and a the second private reserve located in the North-East region of Maasai Mara national reserve, the conservancy was established in 2010 covering an area of 200 square kilometers. This conservancy is also situated East of the Olare Motorogi conservancy and West of the Kinyei Conservancy. In this conservancy animals move freely out of their confines of Maasai Mara national reserve and in this way the corridors of the annual great wildebeest migration are preserved.
Naboisho Mara conservancy is situated on the migratory route of the less known Loito Hills migration, at the end of the dry season herds of the wildebeests come back from Maasai Mara national reserve and move east wards to Loito Hills area and some to this conservancy (Naboisho conservancy)instead of moving down to Serengeti national park.
Naboisho Mara Conservancy gets its name from a Maa language of the Maasai people loosely translated as “meeting”, this conservancy was formed as a result of the desire of local communities to do something for conservation and at the same time improve the living conditions of the land owners. There are about 500 Maasai landowners in Naboisho Mara conservancy and in 2008 their representatives met with some of the conservationists, investors of tourism industry and environmentalists to define a model that would combine the preservation and maintenance of the traditional culture and in 2010 a 15 years agreement was signed to establish the Naboisho Mara Conservancy.
Naboisho Mara conservancy is a home to a variety of wildlife and over 300 species of birds, wildlife in this conservancy include lions, leopards, elephants, cheetahs, wildebeests, elands, Rothschild giraffe, warthogs, hippos, rhinos and many more. Birds found in Naboisho Mara conservancy include White stock, Marabou stock, cattle egret, water thick-knee, pallid harrier, black kite, lesser kestrel, three-banded plover, yellow-billed egret and many more.
Ol Kinyei Conservancy
Ol Kinyei Conservancy was the first conservancy/reserve to be created in Great Maasai Mara Ecosystem, the conservancy is located in the North-East of the Maasai Mara national reserve and is separated from the reserve by the Mara Naboisho Conservancy and bordered by Siana Conservancy to the East.
Ol Kinyei Conservancy was formed as a result of the agreement between 171 Maasai local people who own the land. The Maasai local people allocated their land to the conservancy so that animals can move freely with no barriers and to do so the villages where removed forbidding the resident and animals from accessing the conservancy.
Ol Kinyei Conservancy was initially stretching over 32 square kilometers and was later subsequently extended and currently stretches over an area of 65 square kilometers. Ol Kinyei Conservancy is the most remote and beautiful areas of the Serengeti Mara Ecosystem comprising of smooth hills, open savannahs, forests along the perennial river, springs and seasonal streams.
Ol Kinyei Conservancy hosts a variety of mammals, birds and reptile species, animals in the conservancy include cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, lions, wild dogs, grant gazelles, giraffes, impalas, Thomson gazelles, several species of antelopes and many more. Animals taking part in the Loito Hills Migration pass through Ol Kinyei Conservancy on their way from Maasai Mara national reserve then to the Loito Hills.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy
Olara Motorogi Conservancy is an important buffer zone of Maasai Mara national reserve used for preservation of wildlife migration corridors, the conservancy is located in the North region of Maasai Mara national reserve just above the Musiara sector and west of the Mara North Conservancy. Olare Motorogi Conservancy was formed in 2012 as a result of merging two previous conservation areas that is the Olare Orok and the Motorogi.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy covers an area of 133 square kilometers encompassing of land of 277 Maasai and hosts 6 structures of lodges and tented camps. Within Olare Motorogi conservancy there is the lower section of the Olare Orok River and the Ntiakitiak Valley and both are covered with rain forests. In the conservancy there is also the Ntiakitiak Gorge located immediately below the 12 kilometers escarpment and is a very important wooded area for ecological point of view.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy was created as a buffer zone by the Maasai people and none of their cattle is allowed to graze in the pastures, this buffer zone is used by animals as a migrating corridor leaving Maasai Mara national reserve on their search for new pastures including the wildebeests, zebras and gazelles during the annual wildebeest migration.