Field Centres


What started over a decade ago as a humble campsite for the first researchers in the region is now a fully-fledged community resource centre thanks to support from the local communities, SORALO and the African Conservation Centre. Aptly named after the Maasai concept of ‘ele’enore’ meaning the search for and use of information (usually associated with traditional ‘scouts’ assessing suitability ahead of a family’s planned move), the centre’s primary role is just that – collecting, sharing and using information. The Lale’enok Resource Centre, situated in Olkiramatian Group Ranch, was built a decade ago and serves as SORALO’s field base

Unusually in Maasai land, this centre is owned by women, more specifically the Olkiramatian Reto Women’s group, thus it also functions as a social enterprise, by earning revenue from visitors, such as a growing flow of overseas students who come to Lale’enok to learn about Maasai culture, land management, and conservation practices. The centre plays a central role as the research base for our main research teams, resource assessors, visiting students and volunteers. It is also the home of our Conservation Education Outreach programme. Please see the following documents (brochure and rates) for more information.


A SORALO Field centre in Olorgesailie

Thanks to popular culture and mass tourism, the Maasai have become the iconic face of Africa in recent decades. Their image is displayed in brochures, magazines, and on billboards around the world. Despite their fame, the Maasai are fast losing their material culture and profound knowledge of livestock, environment and wildlife. Their culture is facing growing challenges from both outside and within as they embrace developments and formal education. The traditional rites of passage that pass Maasai cultural values and knowledge from one generation to another are waning. The passing of traditional elders, a lack of documentation and rapid modernization are obliterating Maasai traditions and knowledge. Spurred by a burgeoning tourist market, non-Maasai vendors are pirating and eroding traditional crafts at the expense of Maasai artisans and communities. With their culture at a crossroads and their traditions disappearing, the Maasai must act fast to preserve their heritage and make their communities the primary custodians and beneficiaries of their knowledge and art. There is need of the “Maasai” brand to be observed and conserved in a form that is true to traditional values and in way that can be learned and appreciated by the generations of Maasai to come. It is with this in mind that a young generation of Maasai is seeking out its cultural roots and a sense of identity. The ground swell of interest is timely, but the task of recovering a fading heritage is daunting. It calls for galvanizing communities scattered across the Rift Valley, gathering a wealth of cultural practices and knowledge, and creating an awareness of traditions and their meaning, It also calls for institutions to perpetuate Maasai heritage and build capacity to harness the potential of Maasai knowledge, skills and art. In order to support this movement, SORALO is currently creating a Maasai Cultural Heritage

field station and museum, located next to the National Museums of Kenya famous prehistoric site at Olorgesailie, right in the heart of the SORALO landscape. This project aims to rekindle, preserve and perpetuate Maasai heritage not only through the creating of a physical space, but also from holding cultural festivals, to bring together Maasai peoples to discuss their past, present and future. These festivals will bring together vignettes of Maasai heritage and encourage communities to share, restore and celebrate their culture, and to exhibit and perpetuate traditional practices, skills and knowledge for the benefit of Maasai communities. The museum itself will include write ups and displays of some of the following aspects of Maasai culture:

• Ethnography: material and cultural artifacts including art, rock art, beadwork, leatherwork, other adornments, shields, heraldry, spears and other weapons
Ceremonies: age-set ceremonies, songs and verse-singing, dances, rain-making and peace ceremonies;
• History: mythology, pre-history, oral history and written history.
• Traditional life ways: cattle culture and practices, hunting and foraging techniques, stock-raiding and socio-political systems and architecture.
• Environmental knowledge and skills: beliefs, practices, attitudes and knowledge about environment, ecology, natural resources and wildlife.
Construction is underway at the site, mainly inspired by a document created with the assistance of the Smithsonian Institute (document to be available to download).
Watch this space for further news as this project develops!