There are lots of great reasons conservancies are springing up throughout Kenya: natural restoration of the land, increasingly rich wildlife, an unrivaled safari experience, and life-changing benefits for the local people such as the Maasai. Mara Siana is just the latest conservancy experiment to enjoy success as a promising destination for tourism in the rich Mara eco-system.
The lands of the conservancy are an abundant buffer zone, alive with animals in this active wildlife region. Visitors will find a wonderful array of grazers here – buffaloes, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, topis, dik-diks, elands, and so many others. And in the grand scheme of nature, right behind those grazers look for several resident prides of lions, plus leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and hyenas.
The conservancy is a migration corridor for elephant herds, and some are truly impressive with over 200 individuals in a family.
Wildebeests also hold a special place in Siana’s eco-system. During the Great Migration from July through October, great masses of these creatures pass through the conservancy, creating an unrivaled spectacle of herding wildlife.
However, prior to the migration during January and February, visitors can also witness the unique wonder of innumerable wildebeests calving in the Loita Hills area.
One of the benefits of Mara Siana – in direct contrast to the great numbers of wildlife – are the few tourists found here. The game viewing is unhurried and uncrowded, for that is how the conservancy model is designed. There are just six safari camps in the conservancy for an expansive ratio of 1 room per 250 acres.
And in keeping with the conservancy style, visitors can enjoy activities not found in the national parks: walking safaris with a Maasai guide, fly camping in the bush, and night safaris. A nocturnal outing may include sightings of mongoose, fox, bush babies, and sometimes porcupine and aardvark.
The cultural experiences here are authentic, unlike some of the heavily touristed village visits found elsewhere. Guests may get lessons in beadwork, traditional medicine, and even such unexpected activities as handling a Maasai spear. One can also arrange visits to a local elementary school and nearby markets.
Mara Siana began in 2015 when 1,200 landowners joined to form the partnership establishing the conservancy. After much discussion, the local residents agreed to move from their homesteads, called Bomas, so that their bio-diverse lands would once again be open to the natural free-ranging wildlife of the Mara.
As with other conservancies, these conservation measures have improved the eco-system and its ability to host great populations of wildlife. Mara Siana has since grown to 3,500 individuals creating the 35,000-acre reserve, which supports all the principal animal species of this region except for the black rhino.
Also found within the boundaries of Mara Siana are several research projects to benefit the resident wildlife. The Mara Predator Conservation Programme collects data on lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and other predators about their behavior, population, and health trends, to ensure these species thrive. Elephant Voices studies the communication and social behavior of elephants to promote their scientific and ethical management. And the researchers even document the elephants’ own special language of over 250 calls and gestures!
The new Siana partnership provided for the local landowners to receive guaranteed yearly payments for their acreage – an amount of KES 1,000 for each acre per year. The payments are made directly to the Maasai as electronic bank deposits. This presented a challenge as most of the landowners never had a bank account – just one of many issues that had to be overcome.
However, over many discussions these traditional herders came around to embrace this new arrangement and lifestyle. They would enjoy a steady income and would have guaranteed pasture in which to graze their livestock.
Additionally, many of the area people have found employment at the lodges and have been trained to work as conservancy scouts. The degree that local residents have benefitted from this arrangement has allowed them the means to educate their children for the first time.
A positive change for their lives and a profitable business model has helped these local residents. And the successes continue – the restoration of traditional grazing lands, an increase in the wildlife population, and a rich safari experience for those who plan a journey here.
Accommodation options at Mara Siana Conservancy:
You can experience the exciting rewards of this eco-safari project with an adventure designed by Natural World Kenya Safaris. Let us know your thoughts and wishes, and we’ll create a personalized tour of Mara Siana that you’ll talk about for years to come.
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