Bush dinner at sundown in the Nashulai Conservancy

This is a very interesting perspective on the Nashulai Conservancy and what sets the safari camp apart from others…. from a Namibian visitor, Steve Felton:

“Looking for a holiday place to stay with my daughter, the lodges just outside the Maasai Mara were frankly unaffordable; the starting price is around US$ 900 a night. But the fly-in tourists are directly subsidizing conservation and the Mara conservancies, which have made deals with private sector operators who pay monthly leasehold fees and an agreed levy on bed nights. And like in Namibia, the conservancies stipulate that locals should be employed in the lodges, bringing income to families.

Nashulai does not yet have a private sector partner, so in 2009 it started Oldarpoi Mara Camp, with just five tents funded by community members. Now it boasts 15 luxury tents with showers and toilets, and a simple restaurant with wi-fi. The profits from the camp are reinvested, or flow to the conservancy. That’s where I stayed with my daughter. I can strongly recommend the hospitality, as well as the quality of the guides: Maasai ‘warriors’ who took us on a guided walk up a hill to view the area, and told us about their traditions and the conservancy.”

Steve goes on to talk about the pros and cons of offering big game hunting, which Kenya outlawed in 1977 (thank god!). He wonders whether the Nashulai is able to make enough money from donors and Safari trips alone and he concludes:

“Taking aside the economic benefits, and standing on a hill top with two Maasai warriors, spears in hand, gazing across the eternal landscape, it was evident that conservation pays in much more rewarding ways than cash alone. For these young men, their way of life is being secured, alongside that of the wildebeest on the plain below.”

Read the full article here.

According to founder Nelson Ole Reiyia, other Maasai landowners are just waiting for their agreements to end with their current private sector safari company, so that they can join Nashulai! This proves that a mixed-use conservancy model – where wildlife live alongside people and domestic livestock, and all are supported to thrive – is far superior to the dominant model of exclusionary conservation.

A mixed-use conservation model that reverses poverty for the local tribes (through education, job training and local spending), preserves wildlife migration routes and birthing grounds, plants trees and encourages biodiversity, is not only sustainable for the long-term, it is regenerative. That’s where I prefer to spend my money!