Mpus Kutuk Community Conservancy has expanded into one larger conservancy – covering the whole Oldonyiro Ward which is made up of four locations. Divided into four management units, it is hoped that the establishment of the larger Oldonyiro Community Conservancy will help bring peace and stability to a volatile area, secure a vital wildlife corridor and provide an institutional platform for the communities to engage with surrounding landowners and neighbouring community conservancies.
Mpus Kutuk lies on the border of Samburu and Laikipia Counties. It is surrounded on all but its western side by NRT member community conservancies, and flanks the mighty Ewaso Nyrio River. Over the past few years it has struggled with high levels of insecurity and elephant poaching, degraded rangelands and many blame the large swathe of ungoverned land on the western boundary.
With no community owned and led institutional framework for managing the natural resources here, this area has become severely degraded. As such, pressure from pastoralists on surrounding community and private land has been increasing, and with it, tensions between pastoral groups. Gangs started to use this space to launch livestock theft, elephant poaching and highway banditry operations especially during the various local livestock markets in the area. This affected both local livelihoods and surrounding tourism ventures.
Seeing the success of the surrounding community conservancies, community members in the larger Oldonyiro area approached NRT for support to establish one of their own. NRT called a meeting with community representatives, partners and stakeholders to discuss. There was a consensus to create one large conservancy, which included the already established Mpus Kutuk, in order to promote collaboration and co-management. It was decided that a ‘unit’ model, like the one successfully operating in Namunyak Conservancy, was going to be the most appropriate way forward. As such, the newly established Oldonyiro Community Conservancy is divided into 4 units, 2 of which used to be Mpus Kutuk. Each unit has its own board, manager and rangers. There is an umbrella board, made up of the executives of all the units, and a General Manager who oversees all unit managers. A General Warden has been seconded from Namunyak, where this system of units works well, to oversees all the rangers.
After receiving training on the bank of the Ewaso Nyiro river (between Loisaba and Oldonyiro) over 60 rangers graduated on the 19th July 2016. Their pass out ceremony was attended by senior government officials and representatives from the Kenya Wildlife Service.
It is hoped that the establishment of a community conservancy institution will enable communities to spearhead dialogue both between each other, and with surrounding land owners, neighbours and partners. As the majority of the area is badly degraded, their main priorities are rangeland management, wildlife conservation and peace.
Oldonyiro is a vital wildlife corridor between Laikipia and Samburu. It is known among the locals as the elephant superhighway, due to the size of the path carved out from years of elephant travel. It is also important habitat for the Grevy’s zebra, listed by IUCN as endangered. If managed well, the hope is that the communities will be able to benefit from tourism development, healthier rangelands for their livestock, and peace.