Launched in 2000 by The Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Lease Program (WCLP) is an incentive-driven effort to encourage local Maasai families to steward a mutually beneficial relationship between their land, their livestock, and local wildlife. The programme pays landowners USD 4 per acre per year in exchange for forgoing the economic opportunities of fencing, selling, or farming their land. Participants continue to use this land for grazing of livestock, but also allow for the passage of wildlife to and from Nairobi National Park. For a household with an average of 100 acres of land, this translates to roughly USD 548 per year. This income supplements livestock income, helping families pay fees for modern necessities including secondary school and college.
Residents participate in the lease programme on a strictly voluntary basis. Many are eager to join, not only for the payments but also for the opportunity to continue traditional ways of life: raising livestock and sharing the land with wildlife.
One critical component if this program is the role it plays in funding the education of Maasai children. Lease payments are made three times a year, timed to coincide with school openings, when school fees are due. Participants receive funds in a public gathering attended by community and local leaders, Kenya Wildlife Service representatives, and other conservation partners. Thanks in part to community sensitization about women’s roles, more women than men receive and control the lease income.
The Wildlife Lease Conservation Programme started with two landowners and a combined 214 acres; it now includes 350 members and their holdings of over 55,000 acres. Currently, 118 members of the community with more than 17,000 acres are waiting to join the program.
Conservation achievements of the lease programme include the opening of more grazing land for livestock and wildlife dispersal, lower grazing pressure on the land, and a reduction in human-wildlife conflict.
The Wildlife Conservation Lease Programme (WCLP) encourages and helps pastoral landowners to:
For more information on Conservation Leasing in Kenya, please visit our partners at Porini Camps at www.porini.com. As pioneers of successful community-owned conservancies in Kenya that are not dependent on donor funding but based on healthy tourist revenues as a result of providing a genuine high quality safari experiences, they have a lot of valuable information about responsible tourism and the conservancy concept.