MAASAI MARA (03/2014) – Kenya Gold Guide Calvin Cottar and his wife Louise Cottar, owners of Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, have worked for 10 years to establish Kenya’s newest conservancy: Olderikesi Wildlife Conservancy. They have met with the local Maasai and government to create a model which may be replicated across the country, aiming to unify the Maasai instead of segmenting the land. Their passion for Kenya, its tribes and the country’s living history is reflected in their efforts.
The Olderikesi Wildlife Conservancy is 6,000 acres on the border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park. “We feel that if visitors want to help wildlife survive in Africa today, they should stay in conservancies on the peripheries of parks and reserves. It’s a far more responsible choice as it helps finance the expansion of the ecosystem versus protecting wildlife within set borders,” says Calvin, explaining how easily this new conservancy model can be adopted. Kenya is changing, with some hoping to help direct that change in a positive way.
Power to the People:
The situation is ongoing local human-wildlife conflict and destruction of environment by domestic livestock. The conservancy’s solution is to lease the land from the Maasai with areas designated for wildlife only, and areas where domestic stock may be taken to graze. Instead of division by fences, there is division by shares within a community trust – and an added clause that the shares can never be sold to outsiders. Maasai land stays truly Maasai.
Calvin and Louise recognize that their property is built on Maasai land, and pay annual fees to the Maasai. Their recently opened Private House is their commitment to the Maasai that they are there to stay, to help them and the land. The Cottar’s are part of a five-generation family business, reminiscent of the colonial era when Charles Cottar moved from Iowa to Kenya with his family (seen in the white canvas tents with family antiques from the 1920s). There are ten en suite tents and a private house, which can accommodate up to 10 guests in five large en suite bedrooms.