Wildlife conservancies near the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve have received a huge boost of Sh 660Million as Covid-19 mitigation funds to support their operations after the pandemic grounded tourism. Speaking at Olare Mororogi conservancy,the German Ambassador to Kenya Ms Annette Gunther announced that the funds will go towards supporting the land owners,rangers and general conservation in the Mara ecosystem. “The German government recognizes the conservation in the Masai Mara which is one of the world’s best tourist destination.

”Due to diminishing tourism as a result of Covid-19 pandemic,we do not want to see the community selling their land to survive,”said Ms Gunther.  She however asked the beneficiaries to ensure that they utilize the funds for a sustainable conservation of the tourist jewel. Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala who graced the event hailed the German government gesture saying it goes a long way in supplementing the ongoing economic stimulus program the government was carrying out in the 160 conservancies in the country.

The CS said the support program will continue for the next two years when the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have gone down and tourism picking up. “If the government had not taken the initiative to continue paying the community rangers since last year, we were risking losing all our wildlife as well as conservation areas. That is why we are appealing to the Treasury to continue disbursing the funds.”said Mr Balala. He however lauded the Maasai community for their efforts in conservation despite the rising human-wildlife conflicts adding that the government has spent Sh 147 Million to compensate victims of human-wildlife in Narok alone for the last five years.

The CS who was accompanied by his Principal Secretary Prof Fred Segor cited climate change,change in  land use and now the Covid-19 as some of the challenges facing tourism in the country. The move was also welcomed by the Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association Chief executive Daniel Sopia who admitted that investors had to cut the lease payment by 50 percent due to decline in tourism since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. He also revealed that four key conservancies such as Olkinyei, Olare Motorogi, Naboisho and Mara North will benefit from the German grant. Mr Sopia reiterated that in the last 10 years conservation in Mara has grown to over 1500 square kilometers.