I briefly caught up with Harrison Nabaala, Savannah Restoration Manager at The Centre for Ecosystem Restoration (CERK), ahead of a fundraiser for renovations to Enarau Conservancy HQ in the northern Mara, supporting ranger accommodation, office space, and staff areas for the whole Conservancy team. If you’re in a position to help, please see here.
Harrison, thank you for making the time in your busy schedule. To start, can you talk a little about how Enarau Conservancy came about?
Enarau was established to address the increasing need for expanding wildlife habitats, safeguarding threatened environments, and rehabilitating degraded areas. It currently stands as the sole conservancy in Kenya that employs scientific research and advanced technology to monitor and carry out restoration and conservation efforts.
During that time [that the land was being degraded], there was a rampant occurrence of illegal activities such as charcoal burning, firewood collection, overgrazing, timber harvesting, farming, and fencing. The degradation of the land was escalating, impacting an area that had once been a sanctuary for wildlife. To tackle this issue, a team of rangers, trained through the Mara Elephant Project (MEP), was assembled to promptly address these unlawful activities.
Today, Enarau is situated within the Northern Mara conservancies and boasts features like dense vegetation, which serves as a breeding habitat for elephants, unique terrain, a 21-acre wetland, and several permanent streams and springs that nourish the Mara River. The conservancy shares its borders with the recently formed Mbokishi conservancy to the northeast, covering an area of 1270 hectares (3140 acres), with the potential to expand to 4050 hectares (10,000 acres) if leasing funding becomes available.
What are the key challenges being faced at the conservancy?
Several issues are currently being addressed, including bushmeat hunting, illegal firewood collection, illegal timber production at night, and uncontrolled grazing.
- Bushmeat hunting: Bushmeat hunting is a major concern, and a nearby community has been obstructing rangers’ efforts to combat it. Despite the fact that they are outnumbered by the rangers, they are resorting to using snares or hunting at night.
- Illegal grazing: Another issue is illegal grazing, which occurs when livestock enters restricted areas within the conservancy. Rangers, on the other hand, are constantly making arrests and fining offenders.
- Habitat destruction. Despite the rangers’ success in reducing other illegal activities, habitat destruction remains a persistent challenge. A few people were caught collecting firewood late at night, emphasizing the importance of ongoing vigilance.
What’s the role of the conservancy in protecting the broader Mara-Serengeti ecosystem?
The role of the conservancy in protecting the broader Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is crucial and multi-faceted. It plays a significant part in preserving the biodiversity, natural habitats, and wildlife in the region. Some of the key roles of the conservancy include:
- Wildlife conservation: The conservancy serves as a safe haven for a diverse range of wildlife species, including endangered ones. It provides protection against poaching, human-wildlife conflicts, and habitat destruction, ensuring the survival and flourishing of various animal populations.
- Habitat preservation: By maintaining large tracts of natural landscapes and minimizing human encroachment, the conservancy helps safeguard the vital habitats for various plant and animal species. This protection is essential for maintaining ecological balance and supporting the overall health of the ecosystem.
- Migration corridors: The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is famous for its annual wildebeest migration. The conservancy contributes to the preservation of migration corridors, enabling the seamless movement of these animals and ensuring their survival during their epic journeys.
- Sustainable land management: The conservancy employs sustainable land management practices that promote responsible land use, agriculture, and tourism. This approach aims to reduce the negative impacts on the ecosystem while providing benefits to local communities.
- Research and monitoring. Continuous research and monitoring of the ecosystem are conducted within the conservancy. This helps in understanding the dynamics of the ecosystem, identifying potential threats, and implementing necessary conservation measures.
- Community engagement: Engaging and involving local communities in conservation efforts is essential. The conservancy works closely with neighbouring communities, providing them with sustainable livelihood opportunities and education about the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation.
- Collaborative Conservation: The conservancy collaborates with other organizations i.e. the Maasai Mara wildlife conservancies association (MMWCA), governmental bodies, and stakeholders to ensure a coordinated approach to conservation efforts in the entire Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
By fulfilling these roles, the conservancy acts as a vital guardian of the broader Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, contributing significantly to its long-term health, sustainability, and protection for future generations.
What are the plans for the HQ renovations?
The renovation of the ranger units and office space is set to encompass a comprehensive transformation of several areas within Enarau’s premises. It will focus on improving and upgrading five twin rooms, an office space room, and the ablution block. The primary objective of this project is to establish a highly conducive and motivating environment that will empower the staff to execute their duties with the utmost effectiveness.
So, there you have it, Enarau Conservancy in a nutshell. We’re hoping to raise $10,000 to provide a full renovation of the HQ. Every dollar will be matched by Wild Philanthropy. To learn more about this project and to show your support, please visit the fundraiser page and share with friends and family. Alternatively, get in touch with Paul Herbertson.