New Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust Blog!

Writing today with some important news that our blog has moved locations and we’re now posting regularly at  You can also check out the Trust’s brand-new website over at  Finally, you can follow us on Facebook for regular updates on the MWCT Facebook Page.  Thanks for everyone’s support, and we hope you enjoy the updates on all the great programs we’re operating! -Ed.


Tourism and Conservation in Africa

Here is another very informative and well written article to check out, written by Graham Boynton. While detailing the detrimental impacts of high mass, low price tourism industry and exponential population growth throughout Africa, it also highlights the benefits of conservation focused, community-led eco-tourism similar to that of Campi ya Kanzi and MWCT.

Eco-lodge Campi ya Kanzi, the essential founding organization of MWCT, has a similar mission to that of the conservation focused initiatives in this article: to protect the wilderness, biodiversity and Maasai culture in Kenya by directly demonstrating the value of wildlife and the eco-system to the Maasai landowners, through employment and engagement with the lodge, or with MWCT.

We found the strategy and combined missions of MWCT and CyK parallels that which is cited in the article:

“ high-tariff, low-volume tourism. Instead of paying fees based on the number of tourists who come in, camp owners guarantee payment every month to the local people, regardless of occupancy. In exchange, the tribal landowners agree to create and maintain a viable and sustainable conservancy that ensures that wildlife prospers. Great Plains claims to make these communities direct financial beneficiaries (and even shareholders), earning income streams from tourism, encouraging the tribes people to become custodians of the African wilderness.”

The lodge and MWCT operate completely with, and for the local community, who are employees, land lords, managers and board members of MWCT.

We thought that some of the statistics mentioned in the article were interesting, and decided to conduct some calculations of our own. Considering the low occupancy rate of CyK,  we found out that there is only one tent per 35,000 acres of land within Kuku Group Ranch!

Find the link to the article here:

Safari: Are too many tourists killing Africa’s wildlife?


Our good friend and active contributor to MWCT, Kristin, brought this interesting article to our attention, and now we’d like to share it with you. It highlights the serious challenges facing crucial wildlife corridors in Tanzania and Kenya as a result of drought, rampant poaching a poisoning of large carnivores. The article highlights the rapidly declining lion populations in Kenya and throughout Africa, and exemplifies the urgent need and successes of predator compensation programs, such as MWCT’s Simba Project, which has proven to be one of our most successful endeavors. Since its implementation in 2006, we have witnessed the lion population within Kuku Group Ranch (neighboring Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks) increase from an estimate 20 lions to well over 50. We’re very proud to be part of what the author refers to as “better news” in the Chyulu Hills, and we’re working hard to ensure the continuation of the Simba Project, and the protection of the local environment. We look forward to hearing your comments on this article, and hope that it brings attention to the very real, serious environmental challenges that face Kenya’s land and wildlife.

Check out the article at the link below…..

African Safaris: Bleak News From the Bush

we look forward to your comments!

one of the lions who are regularly seen around MWCT headquarters

Emerald Data Solutions Launches “Computers for Students Kenya” Program with Donation to MWCT

Emerald Data Solutions, developer of the BoardDocs paperless governance solution, recently announced the launch of its Computers for Students Kenya program with a generous donation of student laptops and educational software to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.  Computers for Students Kenya, founded by Emerald Data Solutions President Ari Ioannides, was created to improve student education in Kenya.


“The goal of our partnership with Emerald Data Solutions is to provide Maasai students with advanced knowledge, precisely to enable them to protect their wilderness, wildlife and cultural heritages,” said Luca Belpietro, MWCT Executive Director.

Emerald Data Solutions will donate 20 computers to MWCT this month, and the computers will be used by students at Kanzi Academy and Kanzi-Iltilal Primary School.  This donation will allow many students on Kuku Group Ranch to use a computer for the first time.

Plans are already underway to incorporate computers into the school curriculum as soon as possible, beginning with a computer-based course on gender and sexuality issues developed by AMREF.  MWCT is very excited about this donation, and we hope to incorporate additional educational technology into Kuku Group Ranch classrooms soon.

Recent research on climate and Africa

Two recent articles on the impacts of climate change on Africa caught our attention and got us thinking about the kind of research that is relevant to a non-profit organization like MWCT.  The first, titled” Warming Increases the Risk of Civil War in Africa” (Bruke et al. 2009), argues for a strong link between war and temperature on the continent (PDF here).  This is a good example of research that is not especially helpful for a non-profit like ours.  Essentially, the researchers ran a series of regressions with “civil war” as the dependent variable and looked for relationships with a number of climatic variables.  Whatever the relationship between civil war and climate change might be, this article does not usefully describe it.  This sort of macro-level, acontextual, and reductionistic approach obscures the underlying causal mechanisms at play by ignoring the complexities of particular places (or cultures or ecosystems).

The second, titled “Transitions: Pastoralists Living with Change” (Galvin 2009), explores causes of change in pastoralism, focusing on land fragmentation and climate variability (Abstract; a PDF version is not available free unfortunately).  This article is closer to something that might usefully inform the work MWCT does on a daily basis.  Galvin, an anthropologist, compares changing pastoralist systems in Mongolia and East Africa.  Her skilled use of qualitative methods and insistent attention to local realities allows her to appreciate the complexity of changes that are occurring in pastorialism.  This sort of research, combined with the insight of the members of the Maasai community with which we work, allows us to better understand and address community challenges and improve programs like our Simba Project, for example.

Check out the articles and let us know what you think about all of this.

By the way, we would like to hear from researchers interested in conducting research at our newly-opened Chyulu Conservation and Research Center.  We will post more about this on our blog soon, but in the meantime, you can email us at mwctmanager [@]

Only two days away from NY Marathon

Get updates, and a chance to win cool prizes, by following Edward Norton on Twitter.  We’ve raised more than half a million U.S. dollars so far, but it’s not too late to donate.  Click here to sponsor one of our runners.  PUMA is also offering a Maasai Marathon commemorative t-shirt in two cool designs, and half the proceeds go to MWCT.  Also check out these Garmin maps of Edward’s training.  Best of luck to all the runners!

Huffington Post article about Maasai Marathon

Check out this Huffington Post article about Maasai Marathon!

Three Maasai prepare to run NY Marathon

 This Tuesday, three Maasai from Kuku Group Ranch left Kenya for the United States.  Why?  After months of training, Parashi Ntanin, Martin Sunte, and Samson Parashina are only about a week away from running in the New York City Marathon!  These three Maasai runners are part of a large team, which also includes actor Edward Norton and Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust founder and Executive Director Luca Belpietro, that will run 26.2 miles to raise money for MWCT. 

So far, the runners have raised more than US$360,000.  Can you help us raise more?  Please sponsor one of our runners!  To learn more, visit the Maasai Marathon website or follow Edward Norton’s training on Twitter.  We will post more updates as the marathon continues to approach.

MWCT rescues lost young elephant

That’s right, we have some exciting news to report!  Yesterday, a Kuku Group Ranch community member informed the MWCT office that a young elephant was wandering around lost, separated from his mother and the rest of the heard.  Under the leadership of MWCT Game Scout Coordinator Muterian Ntanin and Radio Operator Joshua Nkapai, more than 10 community volunteers quickly responded and transported the 2-year-old elephant by truck to a nearby airstrip, where they were met by a plane and wildlife professionals sent by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  The elephant will be cared for in Nairobi until it can be returned to the wild.  Check out some photos below of this incredible rescue operation!

Volunteers work to secure the elephant’s legs for transport.


MWCT Simba Scout Leiyan ole Rimpa checks on the elephant and covers its eyes to make it less afraid.

A Sheldrick Wildlife Trust employee gives the elephant milk at the airstrip.

Joshua (in red) and Muterian (to Joshua’s right) help load the elephant into the airplane.

MWCT compensates Ksh 1.2 million for livestock predation incidents

Last Friday, the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust’s Simba Project paid Ksh1.2 million (about US$16,000) to nearly 500 Maasai whose livestock were killed by predators between July and September 2009.  The payout took place after no predators were killed by Kuku Group Ranch residents during the third quarter.

The Simba Project is designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict on Kuku Group Ranch.  MWCT compensates livestock owners quarterly when their cows, sheep, goats, or donkeys are killed by predators such as lions, hyenas, and baboons.  The payouts only occur, however, provided that no predators are killed in retaliation for livestock loss during the quarter.

Nosero, one of the lions on Kuku Group Ranch that the Simba Project helps to protect.

“Simba Project is very important for the whole community because everyone benefits,” says Simba Project coordinator Jacob Ntete.  “It teaches us the importance of conserving lions and other wild animals.  It teaches the community the importance of preserving habitat and the whole environment.  Now that the moran [Maasai warriors] know that Simba Project can compensate their livestock, they don’t want to kill lions anymore.”

When livestock predation occurs on Kuku Group Ranch, livestock owners report their losses to MWCT Game Scouts.  Verification officers from the MWCT office then visit the location of each reported incident, where they determine the number and species of livestock lost, the cause of the loss, and the type of predator.

Simba Project Coordinator Jacob Ntete (R) and MWCT intern Peter Wangai.

Since the beginning of 2009, the Simba Project has paid more than Ksh2.8 million in compensation claims.  Ntete is optimistic that livestock predation rates will drop in the remaining months of the year, if rain brings needed relief from drought.  Livestock will be stronger and herders will no longer forced to cover such large distances in search of pasture, reducing predation, he says.

You can learn more about the Simba Project here.