Markets Meet the Environment in Unexpected Places
Sammy is a warden for a community near the border of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, an area best known from scenes on the Discovery Channel. Wildebeest migrate by the thousands to the Mara’s vast grass plains, but first have to swim the Mara River and escape the reach of the crocodiles lurking below. On a recent trip to the area, our co-author Terry learned how Sammy and the Maasai created Ol Kinyei Con- servancy – an innovative community conserva- tion project that protects the land and wildlife, and provides for the local Maasai. As Terry talked with Sammy in the “lodge,” which was actually a tent that housed a dining and sitting room, impala, warthogs, and giraffe grazed within their view. Sammy, himself a local Maasai, explained his motivation for helping create the Ol Kinyei Conservancy. It was not his oversized uniform, which he wore proudly. Nor was it the pay, which allowed him to purchase more cattle – the store of wealth for the Maasai. It was the prospect of having a Suzuki motor- cycle. For Sammy, the importance of a motor- cycle cannot be understated: In a region of seemingly endless savannah plains, few roads, and no public transportation, a Suzuki would provide Sammy with the mobility necessary to patrol the entire conservancy. Having witnessed what a neighboring group had accomplished by leasing grazing land for wildlife viewing, Sammy saw the potential for environmental entrepreneurship and, for him, a motorbike.
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