Location: Oldonyiro Ward, Isiolo District
Postal address: c/o Northern Rangelands Trust, Private Bag, Isiolo
Manager: Peter Lekurtut
Contact: E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0729 253 408
Ethnicity: Samburu, Turkana
Land Ownership: Currently part of the defunct Livestock Management Division under the Ministry of Livestock. The government is reviewing livestock holding grounds nationally and there is the opportunity for amendment to allow resident communities group ranch status
Core Conservation Area: 52,500 hectares
Main Livelihood: Pastoralism
Key Wildlife Species: Giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, lesser kudu, cheetah, eland, oryx, elephant, lion
Year of Registration: 2007 as Mpus Kutuk Conservancy, 2016 as the bigger Oldonyiro Conservancy
Staff Employed from the Community: 22
Annual Operating Budget: US$ 59,000
Oldonyiro Community Conservancy now encompasses what was Mpus Kutuk Conservancy, and covers 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.
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.
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.
With no community owned and led institutional framework for managing the natural resources in the western boundary, 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 the ungoverned western area as a 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.
Security is therefor a major priority for the Conservancy, and the community rangers are employed from both the Samburu and Turkana communities. Representation of both is vital if they are to effectively manage conflict and raise conservation awareness in the area. Many of the Mpus Kutuk rangers were trained with funding from NRT and generous support from the Kenya Wildlife service, at the Manyani Training School in the famous Tsavo National Park. More rangers were recruited when the larger Oldonyiro Conservancy was formed. After receiving training on the bank of the Ewaso Nyiro river (between Loisaba and Oldonyiro) over 60 new rangers graduated on the 19th July 2016. Each of the 4 management units of Oldonyiro has their own ranger team, and a General Warden was been seconded from Namunyak, where they have a similar unit system, to oversee security operations of all 4 units.
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.
As well as continuing to enhance security, the Conservancy is also implementing rangeland management programmes, which involve land use planning and integrating new ways of grazing. Bunched herding of cattle and designated grazing blocks are proving to help rehabilitate the rangeland, benefiting both the livestock and the wildlife that graze the same plains, and ensuring the sustainability of the natural resources. Grazing coordinators have been recruited and trained to see that the programme is upheld.
Set in stunning landscape with diverse wildlife, there is no reason the communities of Oldonyiro could not host successful tourism ventures in the future. As it continues to improve security operations, infrastructure development and combat poaching, that dream becomes an ever closer reality.
With assistance from NRT and partner organisations, Oldonyiro aims to achieve the following in the coming years:
- To convene, along with all other NRT community conservancies, in annual general meetings to share plans and progress
- To take part in a livelihood baseline survey, commissioned by NRT, with a view of determining the status and priority of education, health, water, jobs, food security, infrastructure and current availability of government services
- To continue the strengthening of wildlife security and monitoring within the conservancy
- To sign a partnership memorandum of understanding, along with all other community conservancies, between themselves and NRT
- To take part in peace building exercises with surrounding communities