The Maasailand Trust Mission

The Maasailand Preservation Trust   --  MPT
All of MPT’s many generous donors who have made all things possible so far, including Dr. Frank Hadlock (deceased), Founding Patron of PCF, Bruce and Carolyn Ludwig, Robert H. and Ann Lurie Foundation, Tusk Trust, Save the Rhino, U. S. Fish & Wildlife, African Wildlife Foundation, Ford Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, African Conservation Centre, East African Wildlife Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, National Geographic Society, San Diego Zoological Society and Conservation International. 
The Maasailand Preservation Trust recognizes that for the Maasai residents of Mbirikani Group Ranch and the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem as a whole, the cost of living with wildlife exceeds the benefits. MPT therefore seeks to better balance the economics of everyday life for the local community and resolve human-wildlife conflict whenever possible. By contributing to the success of the Maasai people and their pastoral way of life – through economics, education, and ecology – the Trust, working in close collaboration with local stakeholders, seeks to stabilize and sustain the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem and its irreplaceable biodiversity.

The Maasailand Preservation Trust Team

Richard Bonham             Founder and Chairman of MPT, Co-Founder of PCF.
Tom Hill                         Trustee of MPT, Co-Founder of PCF.
Fred Njagi                      Manager of MPT.
Dr. Laurence Frank         Founder of Living With Lions, authority on African predators.
Leela Hazzah                 Field researcher, manager of Lion Guardians.
                                     The entire Mbirikani Maasai community.
                                     The Mbirikani Group Ranch Committee.
                                     The Mbirikani Advisory Committee.

The Mbirikani Conservation Model
In 2003 MPT introduced and pilot-tested a one-of-a-kind conservation model on Mbirikani Group Ranch that is comprised of four major components:

  • Predator Compensation Fund (PCF)
  • Community Game Scouts
  • Education
  • Field research and additive conservation programs (Lion Guardians) 

Predator Compensation Fund
In response to an imminent – and virtually certain – threat of local lion extinction, MPT, in close collaboration with the local community, conceived a first-of-its-kind predator compensation program in order to better balance the costs and benefits of living with wildlife and thereby replace conflict and retaliation with tolerance.

The success achieved by PCF in it's first six years (2003-2008) is beyond anything otherwise known to the trustees of MPT in the field of wildlife conservation in Africa. Since inception, lion killing has virtually stopped on Mbirikani Group Ranch (MGR) within a Maasai community of 10,000 people. Only four (4) lions have been killed by livestock owners on MGR in more than six years while, during that same period, more than one hundred (100) lions have been killed on the neighboring group ranches that do not have the PCF program. The same MGR community that now protects lions killed twenty-two (22) individuals in just eighteen months prior to the introduction of PCF. The program requires the community to stop killing predators in return for receiving compensation for their depredated livestock.

Urgent expansion of PCF is required to stop lion killing within the entire Amboseli - Tsavo ecosystem before it is too late [ see How To Support ]. In addition to lions, first and foremost, PCF also covers livestock losses from leopards, cheetahs, the smaller cats, jackals, wild dogs, and hyenas.

Community Game Scouts
MPT employs 65 local men as fulltime community game scouts. Each scout is in uniform and trained, linked to headquarters via radio communication, equipped for camping and patrols, and receives vehicle support. These men are deployed in various operating units to (a) combat poaching activities, (b) protect a rare black rhino population (between 12 and 15 individuals) still living in the wild, (c) resolve human-wildlife conflict, (d) keep river systems flowing, (e) provide general security, including anti-stock theft and protection of the indigenous forests, and (f) facilitate operation of the Predator Compensation Fund (PCF).

The threat to local wildlife of the game-meat trade (poaching) cannot be overstated. In the past eight years, MPT scouts have retrieved more than 5,000 wire snares and arrested more than 350 poachers, yet further manpower is required to address this ongoing and worsening crisis.

Human-wildlife conflict is the greatest single threat to sustainability of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. Predators killing livestock; elephants damaging crops and threatening human life; and wildlife, livestock, and agriculture competing for limited water sources are principal causes for conflict requiring ongoing and immediate attention. 

MPT’s Wildlife Scholarship Program has to date sponsored in excess of one-hundred students in primary, secondary, and tertiary education through contributions from individuals. A contribution of $US 800 sponsors a student for a full year. Virtually all of these students return to their home areas to provide leadership and much needed skills and services.

MPT has facilitated the establishment of two primary schools and one boarding school on Mbirikani Group Ranch, providing education to in excess of three-hundred students per year. In addition MPT has constructed classrooms and renovated facilities for other schools on the ranch.

MPT sponsors seven government-certified teachers’ salaries annually and provides teaching aids, schoolbooks, sports equipment, and other educational materials for the benefit of local Maasai students.

An environmental education initiative, Environmental Scouts Program (modeled after the Boy Scouts of America), supplements inadequate government-based teaching curricula, and is aimed at local primary students in recognition that ultimately and without question the future sustainability of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem will be determined by today’s children. The challenge, of course, in the meantime is to stabilize and sustain the ecosystem until education can bear fruit. 

Field Research and Lion Guardians
Working in collaboration with a team of field research scientists and graduate students under the banner of Living With Lions, led by Dr. Laurence Frank of the University of California at Berkeley, the conservation model incorporates a lion collaring and population study dimension with socio-economic research and synergistic conservation projects as developed.

Within the MPT conservation model, Living With Lions in early 2007 began to manage and extend a collaborative program called Lion Guardians (LG). The project employs young warriors on MGR who would otherwise have little chance of receiving wages and trains them to monitor lion movements across the group ranch in conjunction with scientists, using sophisticated tracking equipment, and to provide community services to minimize human-predator conflict, such as assisting in finding lost livestock before they are killed by predators, or helping to build better protective thorn fences around livestock enclosures. The Lion Guardians program also employs specially-produced films in the local Maa language to improve animal husbandry and further reduce conflict.

Click on the website for The Maasailand Preservation Trust.