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On the 12 June, the Mara conservancy proudly celebrated their 20th anniversary. Custodians of the beautiful Mara Triangle, the Angama family is proud to not only take our guests into the park each day, but to support the Mara Conservancy in every way we can
Above: Looking out over the Maasai Mara

It all began way back in 1994, when the management of the Maasai Mara National Reserve was divided into the eastern side, managed by the Narok County Council, and the north-western sector (the Mara Triangle), then managed by the Trans Mara County Council. The Mara Triangle is 510 km/sq, representing about a third of the entire Reserve.

By the end of the 1990s, infrastructure, equipment and roads in the Mara Triangle were in disrepair. Vehicles were inoperable, staff morale was low, gate revenue was evaporating and poaching rampant. Gate buildings and ranger outposts had disintegrated and there was no running water nor functioning sanitation. The main road network, which had been constructed in the 1980s, had all but disappeared due to negligence and unregulated off-road driving had created a proliferation of tracks in the central part of the Mara Triangle.

Vehicles are only able to go off-road in some areas if they see a cat and only five cars are allowed at a sighting

Often not paid for months, 30% of the staff complement was present at any one time. There were several private sets of park entrance tickets and recognised revenue was 20% of the potential. Only one-third of the Mara Triangle was considered secure, with the remainder unvisited by security staff and tourists. In these areas poaching and illegal grazing were out of control, with thousands of wild animals being killed annually. Cattle theft along the escarpment was also a frequent occurrence.

Something had to be done. Fast.

You will often come across the anti-rhino-poaching vehicle doing its rounds in the Mara Triangle

In 2000, several local leaders became concerned about levels of mismanagement in the Mara Triangle, and as a result, the Mara Conservancy, a not-for-profit management company, was established to manage the Triangle in collaboration with the Trans Mara County Council. A management agreement was signed and the Mara Conservancy started operations in the Mara Triangle on 12 June 2001, only 20 short years ago.

This created the first public/private sector partnership of its kind in the region and has led to an active and cooperative partnership between conservation professionals and the local Maasai community that endeavours to improve the conservation and management of one of the most visited and well-known protected areas in the world. The management of the Mara Triangle by the Mara Conservancy is based on transparency and accountability. Operating solely on 37.5% of tourism revenue, the following has been achieved: 126 000 ha protected; 200 jobs created; 250 000 ha patrolled; 4 600 poachers arrested; 59 000 snares destroyed; and 30 000 dogs vaccinated. Nothing short of miraculous.

Mara Conservancy Rangers looking smart at the 20th Anniversary celebration
The anti-poaching unit has made a marked impact in the years that it has been active

In celebration of 20 years of dedication, it is fitting for us to remember those with the foresight who established the Conservancy. Those who worked hard for two years to achieve what was then considered impossible, a private not-for-profit company managing a Protected Area. The Conservancy has proved that a public/private partnership can work in conservation and the model is now being touted for other National Parks.

The team of the Mara Conservancy celebrated the 20th Anniversary in style
Brian Heath, current CEO of the Mara Conservancy, speaks at the 20th Anniversary celebration
A well-deserved delight for the entire team at the Mara Conservancy

The Angama family would like to honour the following people who work so hard to ensure that our guests experience the finest wildlife viewing in Africa: Ole Kijabe, Gov Samuel Tunai, Shadrack Seiyio, Brian Heath, the Conservancy team and the board of directors. Without the work that you all do each day we would not have a business. It is as simple as that.

The sun sets on another magnificent day in the Mara

Asanteni sana. Hongera.

Note from the Editor

Through the Angama Foundation, we support the following initiatives which aid the Maasai Mara: collaring for conservation; Mara Elephant Project; Mara Raptor Project; livestock protection; and safeguarding the Mara Triangle rhinos. And lastly, a project of which we are most proud is The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year competition which raises much-needed funds for boots-on-the-ground non-profits, including the Mara Conservancy.

Filed under: The Mara

Tagged with:

Angama Foundation , Maasai Mara , Mara Conservancy

About: Nicky Fitzgerald

After more than 30 years in hospitality, starting with a small hotel at the foot of Africa and followed by a further couple of Cape hotels, most notably The Bay, and sixty plus safari lodges across Africa and India, Nicky has served more meals, puffed more cushions, filled more beds, trained more staff and opened more properties than she cares to remember. Her driving force is ‘will our guests love this?’ She has come full circle and is happily puffing, cooking, training and filling to her heart’s content high up on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley at Angama Mara.

Browse all articles by Nicky Fitzgerald Meet the angama team

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