It was World Giraffe Day on June 21st and SORALO reminisces the attributes of a community that patiently keeps practicing promising ethos. The Maasai are possibly the traditionally indigenous community in the world that still coexist with wildlife. Despite the world becoming very chaotic, with political voices shouting for exclusion of wildlife, the Maasai community has stood the test of time. Community-based conservation seems to be the approach of the 21st century to help keep the ecosystems healthy, with a balanced biodiversity and help halt the rapidly decreasing number of wildlife.
In the south rift landscapes of Kenya, the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) organisation is working with the communities to help improve the lands, wildlife coexistence with human beings as well as sustainably offer solutions to the emerging land use practices.
SORALO has managed to help different community group ranches to transition to community lands, while ensuring there is well managed lands for their livestock and wildlife. This kind of practice has proofed fruitful as many wildlife are returning to the community conservation areas like the Olkiramatian and Shompole group ranches. The group ranches host more about 300 elephants, more than 30 lions, over 400 species of birds, cheetahs at the Shompole hills and Nguruman escarpment, leopards, gerenuks, impalas, zebras, a large number of wildebeests and the tallest animal in the world- the giraffes. The lands are healthy for both the livestock and wildlife, and the fresh air offers the communities an alternative to the hot temperatures.
The efforts of SORALO to empower the community in upholding what has been their past practices, are bearing fruits in hundredfold. SORALO’s approach has been to engage the communities from their traditional cultural practices. It tapped the existing cultural connections between the community and conservation from an indigenous perspective. From SORALO’s theory of change, the community has all along been involved in conservation, only that time has changed with so many adverse environmental changes taking place. The Maasai believe in the fact that “Elephants make rangelands, and cattle make grass”.
Looking back, SORALO boasts of mentoring many conservationists who are from the community. This kind of mentorship, is creating a ripple effect as the community is gradually appreciating community-based conservation efforts. As we celebrate and think on the best way to protect giraffes in the south rift, it is important to appreciate the sacrifices made by the community to promote conservation. Their resilience, ethos of eramatare, entaisere and enkanyiet embedded upon their culture, is a promise for sustainable conservation.
Happy World Giraffe Day!