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The Mara Conservancy, Kenya

Context: The Serengeti-Masai Mara trans-frontier landscape is widely considered to be one of the most important wildlife habitats left on the planet. It is also a world-famous tourism destination and the anchor of vitally important tourism industry – particularly for Kenya. The Masai Mara’s management is divided between two county councils – Narok in the East and Transmara in the western ‘triangle’. However, in the late 1990’s these regimes were becoming increasingly ineffectual - characterised by corruption, low morale and collapsing infrastructure. 

Our Role: We co-founded a private management company (Mara Conservancy) that entered into East Africa’s first public-private partnership for the management of a national protected area – a precedent that was featured in The Economist magazine. An agreement was entered into with the Transmara County Council for the management of the western Mara Triangle whereby tourism revenue was shared between the management company, the council and local communities. Full responsibility for the management of the reserve was vested in the company, which is now approaching its fifteenth year of operation.

Outcomes: Operating with just a 40% share of total revenues the Mara Conservancy has significantly improved the status of this corner of the wider landscape. Road networks and management infrastructure have been rehabilitated, modern IT systems have been deployed to manage and control revenue collection and disbursement, employees are well trained and motivated, poaching has been arrested and first class services are being provided both to tourists and the operators who host them. A range of local community development projects around the reserve have also been coordinated and funded. The Mara Conservancy management team now runs similar ventures on behalf of many of the local community conservancies that have been established around the reserve.


The Chuilexi Conservancy, Mozambique

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Context: At 42,000 km² the Niassa Game Reserve is the third largest protected area in Africa and is widely acknowledged to be one of the last great wilderness areas on the continent. Historically, it hosted 70% of Mozambique’s elephant population and is one of the five most important areas on the continent for the conservation of lion and wild dog. It faces a myriad of threats: illegal logging, mining, uncontrolled settlement and agricultural expansion – and now from rampant elephant poaching. 
 
Our Role: We led a bidding and contract negotiation process which secured three concessions within the wider reserve that now make up the newly formed Chuilexi Conservancy, a partnership between Fauna & Flora International and Conservation Capital. At 5,868 km² (c. 1.6 million acres) these contiguous concessions represent 14% of Niassa Reserve, border the Lugenda and Rovuma rivers – the prime arteries of the Reserve, harbour the greatest densities of wildlife and are at the coalface of the current poaching onslaught facing the Reserve. We are now developing a commercial enterprise plan to secure the long-term economics of the conservancy. 
 
Outcomes: Chuilexi Conservancy has created one of the largest privately held, non-hunting based conservation concession holdings in Africa. We have developed a framework of roads, bridges, airstrips, outposts and headquarters, recruited and deployed a hierarchy of personnel and new law enforcement as well as establishing wildlife monitoring and community engagement programmes. A robust platform has been created not only for the conservation of Chuilexi itself but also for the rest of the Reserve. Snaring has been significantly reduced, illegal logging curtailed and the incidences of elephant poaching are comparably lower. Chuilexi’s role and performance has recently been recognised in a US Government award to the Reserve.